I am obsessed with English etymology, the study of where words come from and how their meanings change over time.
Each etymology is like a magic portal into a tiny truth about history, culture, language, or the mind—a miniature eureka, a quiet a-ha, a satisfying huh, or a little story that I believe only a good word origin can tell. So, each week, I pick some words, usually based on a newsy theme or topic, to see what we can learn from their roots.
I also write about various language topics for Slate, Mental Floss, Oxford Dictionaries, Nameberry, and Strong Language. And this past year, I’ve been documenting my project of reading the complete works of William Shakespeare in 2016 at Shakespeare Confidential.
In the spring of 2016, I moved from Southern California to Dublin, Ireland, a city that gives me loads of language to explore. My background is in English language and literature, secondary education, evaluation, and special education. When I’m not compulsively looking up words, I like to play guitar, exercise, read and write, cook, play with my dog Hugo, travel with my lovely, talented, and oh-so supportive wife, and aspire to, you know, make it as a writer.
You can follow me on Twitter at @mashedradish or send me an email at email@example.com.
Thanks to my brother, Andrew Kelly, with a special assist from Sveta Eremenko, for my bio ‘doodle’ featured on the splash page. Andrew also provided past illustrations for individual posts.