The Word Detective

Chris Higgins

Have you ever wondered about the origin of an unusual word or phrase? If you Google the term, chances are you'll find an investigation by The Word Detective.

Written by Evan Morris, the site is based on a newspaper column carried around the world. It depends on reader questions, which are responded to in the column with wit and erudition. Ever wondered where the term "to take a cotton" came from? (As in, "he took a cotton to fiddle playing.") Check out the issue from March 2, 2001 (using your browser's in-page search is a good idea with this site). How about "boondoggle?" See April 26, 2001.

You can search for words using the (rather astounding) index of previous columns. While you're at it, check out the shirts and stuff, buy the books, or subscribe for advance access to new columns.