To date, region-specific pronunciations for words from 10 varieties of English have been added to the OED, namely Scottish, Irish, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysian, and Philippine English.

Shibboleth, Sibboleth: pronouncing international Englishes

‘Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right’ says Judges 12:6 of the King James Bible. The word Shibboleth was adopted more broadly to refer to language which can be used to identify those who belong (or rather, do not belong) to […]

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Do our lexicographers ever feel tempted to make up words in order to win a game of Scrabble?

An OED editor answers some more of your questions

When we took to Twitter and Facebook to ask you to send us your questions about language and lexicography the last time, we received so many submissions that it wasn’t possible to answer all of them in just one blog post. Therefore, we have included more of your questions below — as well as the most recent ones […]

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The woodlouse has had many different names, depending on which part of Britain you’re in: we take a look at some of the regional variations.

The many names of the woodlouse

You’re probably familiar with the woodlouse, but (unless they happen to be your field of study), you probably haven’t given them a great deal of thought lately. The more biologically-minded among you may throw around the Latin term isopoda for the order, and oniscus or armadillidium for the two common varieties, but to most of […]

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Weird and wonderful words from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary starting with the letter c.

On reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter C

As part of an occasional series, guest blogger Nikki (@exitsideway) talks us through her ongoing project to read every word in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in under a year. I turn the 379th page and breathe the tiniest sigh of relief: I’m done with C. Totaling 168 pages, it is second in bulkiness only to […]

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David Brent The Office

The awkward language of David Brent and The Office

‘David, some words would be useful here’: a sentence of exasperation from Neil Godwin, David Brent’s nemesis in the mockumentary The Office, as he witnesses Brent’s bungling management metaphors and haplessly incomprehensible hand-gestures. As we know, David Brent actually has a lot of words, and most of them lead to podiacide, otherwise known as shooting […]

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upstander new words

Upstander, Turtle Island, and tink: an Oxford Dictionaries update

New words added to come, as usual, from a wide variety of backgrounds and areas – from contemporary discussions of gender, to politics, to contemporary slang like CBA (‘can’t be arsed’) and douche canoe (‘an obnoxious or contemptible person’). Here are some of the most notable words entering the dictionary in this update… Gender […]

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Video: why do we call unwanted email ‘spam’?

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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton in the OED

Can’t get – or afford – a ticket to Hamilton, the hit musical about US founding father Alexander Hamilton? Try the next best thing, for word lovers at least: Hamilton in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). A life in words Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was one of the most important figures in early America. Soldier, lawyer, […]

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