Barbara Wallraff

Visit Barbara Wallraff’s blog, at barbarawallraff .theatlantic.com, to see more commentary on language and to submit Word Fugitive queries and words that meet David K. Prince’s need. Readers whose queries are published and those who take top honors will receive an autographed copy of Wallraff’s most recent book, Word Fugitives. More

Barbara WallraffBarbara Wallraff, a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic, has worked for the magazine for 25 years. She is also a weekly syndicated newspaper columnist for King Features and the author of Word Fugitives (2006), Your Own Words (2004), and the national best-seller Word Court (2000). Her writing about language has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wilson Quarterly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wallraff has been an invited speaker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Writers Workshop, the Nieman Foundation, Columbia Journalism School, the British Institute Library of Florence, and national or international conventions of the American Copy Editors Society, the Council of Science Editors, the International Education of Students organization, and the Journalism Education Association. She has been interviewed about language on the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw and dozens of radio programs including Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered. National Public Radio's Morning Edition once commissioned her to copy edit the U.S. Constitution. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel. The Genus V edition of the game Trivial Pursuit contains a question about Wallraff and her Word Court column.

  • Word Court

    Marie Speck, of Buena Park, California, writes, "I am appalled by the free use of the word gentleman. I've been hearing it used more and more, by the…

  • Word Fugitives

    In June we asked for a word to describe "the frantic period of time many families experience each morning prior to leaving home." Replies streamed in…

  • Word Court

    Carola Naumer, of Reno, Nev., writes, "I am being driven crazy by the ubiquitous use of the term artwork. I first encountered this term in the…

  • The Romance of Big Sur

    A visit to a rugged and beautiful California haven that is all the more lovable for its idiosyncrasies

  • Word Fugitives

    On the April Word Fugitives page a soccer coach requested a word analogous to ambidextrous but having to do with feet. John Siddeek, of Grand…

  • Word Fugitives

    Dispute erupted in the Word Fugitives mailbag regarding an appropriate tenor for "a word for people who send e-mail messages and then follow them up…

  • Word Court

    Bonnie Lewellyn, of Hayward, Calif., writes, "In recent months a puzzling word has reared its head once again: surveil. When I first heard it used, a…

  • Word Court

    DAVID WILLIAMS, of London, England, writes, "Growing up in Montreal, where French and English mingle more than they do in many places, I was…

  • Word Fugitives

    The Atlantic's readers seem to have worried about the authors of October's word-fugitive questions. One October question was "What do you call it…

  • A Secret Caribbean

    Marie Galante and Les Saintes are islands that the French have been keeping for themselves

  • Word Court

    S. Smith, of Alameda, California, writes, "When I was a student teacher in a middle school, my master teacher's pet peeve was the popular use (or…

  • Word Fugitives

    The responses to the July/August request for "a word for an object that works only if one employs a trick known to its owner or frequent user" were…

  • Word Court

    Adeline Green, of Glendale, California, writes, "It seems to me that Democrat as an adjective is used consciously by Republicans as a term of…

  • Word Fugitives

    "A problem caused by a blundering or heavy-handed attempt to cure another problem" was one of the word fugitives sought in the June Atlantic. Pat…

  • Word Court

    J. P. McCullough, of Darien Center, New York, writes, "In the sense of 'unclothed,' Webster's 10th Collegiate shows nuder as an adjective: nude,…

  • Assisted Hiking

    Purists regard using a helicopter to reach luscious mountain locales as somehow unfair. Let them.

  • Word Court

    MARY C. WHITE, of Callicoon, New York, writes, "For the past few months I have heard on radio and TV and seen in print this oddity: The proof is…

  • Peeping in Peace

    Not only New England has fall foliage worth traveling to see—Canada's uncrowded Maritime Provinces do too

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Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

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What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

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Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

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Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

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Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

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The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

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