Book quiz

Book quiz: how well do you know traits named after fictional characters?

The origins of some traits named after fictional characters are very well known. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that a Sherlock – ‘a person who investigates mysteries or shows great perceptiveness’ – is named after the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, invented by Arthur Conan Doyle. Others are a bit more obscure: do you […]

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box

Vishing, unboxing, and teachable moments: new words added to OxfordDictionaries.com

OxfordDictionaries.com is today updated with hundreds of new words and phrases. Here are some of the highlights… An heir and a spare It’s appropriate, given that the Duchess of Cambridge is currently pregnant with her second child, that an heir and a spare has now entered OxfordDictionaries.com. While an heir is any ‘person legally entitled […]

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donkey

Taking Portuguese idioms literally

Learning a new language often allows for lots of fun cultural titbits, including unexpected literal meanings of common idioms. The Portuguese language is filled with fun idioms that literally translate into situations that sound amusing to English speakers. Of course, these idioms are no stranger than lots of idioms that you would find in other […]

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black ink

Learning Portuguese: when brown is black and India is China

Portuguese and English have been part of my life as far as I can remember. I was brought up in Brazil and got used to switching from speaking Portuguese to English then back to Portuguese. Word games were part of my childhood and I would translate some expressions literally just for a laugh. Vamos dar […]

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bycicle

Did you know that James Murray… rode both bicycles and tricycles—but not always very well?

2015 marks the centenary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray’s work as a lexicographer is well known, but there was a great deal more to him than lexicography. We are therefore marking the anniversary with an occasional series of articles highlighting other aspects of his life […]

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paper cut figures

Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean to applaud maturity rather than further disparage appearance. And so it is with the gay thing. The accidental difference between […]

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foreign life

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beer types

How well do you know the language of beer?

Do you distinguish between beers and lagers? Do you know your Weißbier from your Schwartzbier? If you think that you’ve got a fair grasp on the language of beer (or bier), then try out our quiz and see how you do!

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