RIFF: a segment of a piece of music which is repeated using variations on the theme


The musical definition for the word riff is the origin of the word as we know it today.   Garner tells us that it is actually an older word having no connection to its current usage.*   Most dictionaries indicate that it is a shortened form of the word “refrain,” which is a repeated portion […]

OPINE [oh-PAHYN]: the forming of judgment or stating an opinion


The encouraging of people to express an opinion carries a risk with it.   It might just be that the opinion expressed is troublesome…and may actually be counter to the very point that you are trying to make.   But if you are truthful that you are really looking for diverse opinions, you are safe in opening […]

NOTABLE: prominent, highly respected


The photo to the right is of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Chldren’s Defense Fund, and one of the most respected voices in the arena of children’s rights and education in the United States.   You may know of her, and may even have recognized her.  But for many Americans her name is familiar and […]



It’s been a busy week for meteors.   We had an asteroid which “barely” missed crashing into Earth, and then this unbelievable, 10,000 ton meteor/asteroid explodes over Siberia.  It created a stir all over the world as it was captured on camera at its moment of impact.  Unfortunately, there was a lot of damage to a […]

EITHER: is it [EE-ther] or [AHY-ther] ????

I have no idea when it began.   I grew up pronouncing either almost as if it were that gas that they gave you when you were going to have surgery: ether.   There was never a question in my mind that either was pronounced [EE-ther.]  Why was there a question? But someplace along the way the […]

INCENTIVIZE [in-SEN-ti-vahyz] : to provide (someone) with a good reason for wanting to do something

The creation of verbs from other parts of speech  is as ancient a practice as language itself.  We activate, organize, rehabilitate, and decentralize all the time and never think about it.   As society becomes more and more complex, it requires language to articulate that complexity. Such creations are called neologisms, meaning new words. One of […]