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Articles by Mark Peters

Mark Peters has published language-related articles in Chicago Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Columbia Journalism Review, Esquire, Mental Floss, Nerve, New Scientist, and Psychology Today. He writes the Jabberwocky column for Babble and the blog Wordlustitude. His book Yada Yada Doh! 111 of the Most Successful Television Words is forthcoming from Marion Street Press in 2008.

Featured Article

With apologies to “green” and “enviro,” there’s no doubt “eco” is the supreme prefix of the environmental movement.

Photo: iStockphoto

According to the Oxford English Dictionary — the Bible of the English language, only with fewer lepers and begettings — “eco” detached from “ecology” as early as 1969, when examples of “eco-activist,” “eco-catastrophe,” and “ecocide” can be found. The OED also has subentries for “eco-art,” “ecodoom,” “ecofreak,” “eco-label,” “eco-nut,” “eco-raider,” “eco-terrorism,” and “eco-warrior,” but of course, these are just the tip of the eco-berg. Grist has been the home of many others, including “eco-troubadour,” “eco-spasm,” “eco-sin,” “mega-eco-economics,” and “not-so-eco-doodad.”

Mostly, the proliferation of these words can be considered a good thing. If people weren’t increasingly eco-friendly, they wouldn’t dream up eco-museum... Read more

All Articles

  • The history of tree-hugging, and the future of name-calling

    Anyone who ever sympathized with Eric Cartman‘s declaration, “I hate hippies! … I want to kick ’em in the nuts” probably finds the word “tree-hugger” useful — and plenty of other people dig the word, too. Maybe you’d rather be a vile SUV-cuddler? Photo: iStockphoto At this point, it’s hard to imagine the vocabulary of […]

  • Cars pollute the dictionary too

    I don’t want to rock your world too severely, but it’s come to my attention that cars cause problems. If you’re not the U.S. government, you may have heard about this global-warming thing, caused in part by driving. There’s also a metric truckload of other health and environmental nightmares caused by monoxides, dioxides, hydrocarbons, and […]

  • Bush accentuates nuke positives, inspires malefactors everywhere

    George W. Bush developed an interesting habit this year when he talked about energy. In his speeches, words like “oil,” “coal,” and “natural gas” shivered in the dark with no adjectives, while “nuclear power” consistently got two. Bush used this spiffy phrase in, among other places, his State of the Union address and a spring […]