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: Fake News

Feb 7, 2017

The term “fake news” has exploded all over the real news, possibly in order to draw fire away from how the news media has covered falsehoods in the past.

Fake news has been around a long time, though.

Consider the presidential race between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Among the slurs the two exchanged, Jefferson’s campaign at one point said Adams had “neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."

OnWords: Expert

Jan 25, 2017

A few years ago, the humorist John Hodgman published a book titled The Areas of My Expertise.

The book used irony to skewer the whole notion of expertise, yet the subject matter expert or “SME,” is still the go-to person for journalists and executives alike.

In my own limited experience with being called an expert, it certainly doesn’t feel like anything special.

In fact, it’s kind of scary, because the deeper you get into a subject, the more you’re aware of how little you actually know.

OnWords: Extreme

Jan 10, 2017

In his call for “extreme vetting,” the president-elect has given the word “extreme” a bit of a comeback.

“Extreme” had a good run in the ‘90s, applied to everything from rock bands to bowling.

And even though the excesses of the 2000s were far greater, we seemed then to have used the word less, almost as if “extreme” was no longer adequate to describe the billions of dollars scammed by complex financial transactions and made-up mortgages.

OnWords: Post-Fact World

Dec 27, 2016

The term “post-fact world” is gaining frightening currency these days.

The idea here is that facts no longer matter in public discourse, that people can say whatever they want, and if something reinforces what people think, they’ll believe it, no matter the evidence to back it up.

At issue is not just how we communicate with one another, but whether or not language is really able to carry straightforward meaning.

The word “refugee,” though quite well placed in a certain Tom Petty song, has become quite rare.

OnWords: Transition

Nov 29, 2016


We get to hear the word “transition” a lot during this season, as we move from summer to fall, and fall to winter. If nothing else, the political scene seems to be making up for any transitions the weather has failed to deliver. But “transition” has gathered a remarkable amount of baggage for a fairly technical, Latinate word.

OnWords: Unfriend

Nov 22, 2016

This past election season, we’ve seen a spate of unfriending. In order for “unfriend” to be a verb, “friend” must also have become one.

To “friend” a person is a function of social media. The process is as simple as clicking a virtual button and sending a request, to be requited or refused in the great digital beyond. Back in ancient times when “friend” was only a noun, this process was much more drawn out. You “befriended” someone, which implies that the onus of beginning the process was on you. Or you “made friends with” someone. You put in the work to build something new.

OnWords: Media

Nov 15, 2016

We tend to use the word “media” somewhat ungrammatically.

It is plural, but we generally reference “the media” as if it’s a single entity and not various different ways of conveying information.

This is curious, since the last few decades have seen a proliferation of new media, each medium failing to completely supplant the last.

Perhaps we lump all media together because the messages we receive from our various sources are largely the same.

OnWords: Locker Room Talk

Nov 1, 2016

I’m not going to argue here that Donald Trump was justified in calling his hot-mic admission of sexual assault “locker room talk.”

Rather, I’m going to suggest that such candid speech is probably necessary.

OnWords: Honyock

Oct 18, 2016

This commentary originally aired on February 23, 2016.  

When I was growing up, my cousins and I were sometimes accused of being honyocks.

“Honyock” was applied to us by older relatives who were tired of our noise and horseplay and just wanted us to settle down and cut it out already. 

Online sources of varying quality contend that “honyock” is either a Hungarian word making fun of country folk or an English word making fun of Hungarians. One source even says that “honyock” comes from German and means “honey chaser.”