May I have a word?

14 Mar

Can’t believe I missed this news on Friday: Ben Zimmer of Visual Thesaurus has been named the new On Language columnist for the New York Times. He follows in William Safire’s footsteps. And if you remember, I wrote a blog post following Safire’s death in September.

For the last several months, the Times has rotated the On Language column among several writers. Ben was one of them, and over time, I’ve discovered that whenever I read his columns, I no longer felt as lost.

Ben is an executive producer at Visual Thesaurus, which is far and away my favorite word source. Subscribe if you haven’t already; it’s well worth it. I use it regularly, both at home and at work. It creates word maps, which are endlessly fun to explore (a little too entertaining, actually; either that or I have ADD). The word maps cluster synonyms of the word you’ve searched according to its meanings. This allows you to easily explore variants of precisely the meaning that you want to convey.

For language lovers and writers, Visual Thesaurus also offers several columns worth reading. Ben, for example, writes Word Routes. There’s also the Word of the Day and a feature called Word Lists.

I confess that I read these features and columns irregularly, but that’s only because I have a lack of discipline. Usually, I’m blowing all of my self-imposed VT daily time allotment on those damn addictive word maps. See for yourself what I’m missing.

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