Lael Ewy

Language commentator

Lael Ewy is a co-founder and editor of EastWesterly Review, a journal of literary satire at and a writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Denver Quarterly, New Orleans Review, and has been anthologized in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh.

He provided commentary for the Wichita City Paper and journalism for Naked City.

He holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of General Studies from Wichita State. Lael supports his writing and reading habits as a lecturer in English at WSU and as a peer educator at WSU's Center for Community Support and Research.

He runs an unaccredited Volvo hospice and is the current caretaker of a family heirloom, a 1965 Ford Mustang.

For fun he wrestles philosophy and literary theory.

Ways to Connect

OnWords: 'Slippery Slope'

Aug 6, 2019

A few terms we have to protect from the unstable landscape of language, and I nominate “slippery slope” as one of them.

As language users, we reserve the right to make up words.

There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as those with whom we are communicating understand what we’re trying to get across. No lesser beings than Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss added new words to the language, and slang continues to bloom.

OnWords: Adulting

Jul 9, 2019

Among the many things Millennials are supposed to have killed is the word “adult.”

For evidence of this, their critics look no further than the word “adulting,” which creates a verb out of what used to be a venerable and well-respected noun.

A typical usage of “adulting” might be something like “I’d love to stay late at work and fix all your computer problems, but I’m done adulting for today.”

The implication here is that “adult” has moved from a state of being to an activity, from a fact of growing up to a choice one makes depending on one’s whim or mood.

OnWords: Emoji

Jun 25, 2019

As a writer and a teacher of writing, I worry constantly about the death of writing, and I worry that emoji are leading the charge.

OnWords: 'Tech'

Jun 11, 2019

The word “tech” has become ubiquitous.

It’s a descriptor: high tech, tech geeks, tech jobs—all these refer to that which revolves around microchips and the software that runs on them, and we occasionally throw in lasers and DNA to round things out.

Some educators have instituted “tech breaks” for their students, not to get students away from their electronic devices for a few minutes, but so they can use them.

OnWords: AI

May 28, 2019

“AI” is a term that crops up with increasing frequency as automated systems perform functions once squarely in the realm of human thought and control.

OnWords: Regulation

May 14, 2019

The word “regulation” takes on different meanings depending on where you stand.

Libertarians tend to bemoan it. Environmentalists are likely on board.

They both can agree that “regulation” in sports is not only OK, but probably necessary. Those who play assent to regulations that govern sizes and weights of bats and balls; lengths, widths, and layouts of courts and fields; and all manner of minutiae only the refs and the hardcore fans ever bother to know.

OnWords: 'Idiot'

Apr 30, 2019

I started worrying about the word “idiot” while discussing whether or not our smartphones are making us stupid.

The word “idiot” shares its roots with words such as “idiom” and “idiopathic” from an ancient Greek word meaning “private.”

“Idiot” as we know it quickly took on a negative denotation, and by the time it got to Latin, it had achieved its present insulting form. And it’s easy to see why: those who are immersed in their own private worlds are oblivious to what’s going on around them, unable to interact in any publicly meaningful way.

OnWords: Organic

Apr 16, 2019

When you think about a word like “organic,” we think about how it’s seeded throughout the language.

Chemists might contend that “organic” refers to compounds containing a significant amount of carbon, the origin of which is irrelevant: a chemical is a chemical, after all, and it doesn’t matter if it came out of a laboratory or your back yard.

A regulator might look at “organic” as a set of parameters describing how a food is grown, tended, packaged, or prepared.

OnWords: 'Spring'

Apr 2, 2019

It seems like it will never arrive. But once it does, spring seems like the the only possible way to be.

We use the word spring for that time of year when hope, as we say, proves that it springs eternal, when the vernal shows the trace of Persephone returning from the underworld.

The word spring comes up again and again.

The springs in your car help determine its ride, how compliant or stiff, how bouncy or smooth. Spring, then, is also about movement.