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15 words invented by authors

Inventors’ Day is typically celebrated in honour of all the great minds past and present that have come up with a process or thing that helped make our everyday lives easier. But what about those inventors of words that have enriched our lexicon with their language? Let’s take a look at fifteen authors, and the words […]

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Do you know the right choice when it comes to whose vs. who's?

Apostrophes often get people into trouble, so it’s no surprise that people often struggle with whose vs. who’s and whose. Though it is a fairly common error, it is also fairly easy to avoid. X There’s no one whose going to believe in your movie more than you. X  It was not well received by parents […]

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Man holding a light bulb

Look who’s Tolkien now: inventing languages

What are invented languages? How are they created? Do they have a place in the modern world? Invented languages have been used for hundreds of years, perhaps most famously in books and TV shows such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Conlang (a shortened form of constructed language) entered both Oxford Dictionaries and the Oxford English Dictionary […]

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back-formations

The hypocrisy of hating back-formations

Does the verb incent make you grind your teeth? Can you cope with enthuse? Does spectate rankle? There are plenty of purported language purists in the world with a professed distaste for back-formations; those who would much rather stick with provide with an incentive, express enthusiasm, and be a spectator. Do they have a point? […]

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Dad's Army

10 words you need to know before watching Dad’s Army

A while ago I tried to explain to my American colleague why the words “Don’t tell him, Pike” would bring a wry smile to any Brit’s face. I don’t think I succeeded brilliantly. If you’re not familiar, the clip below will let you know what I’m talking about – sorry for spoiling the punchline – […]

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Street arrow two way. Does this provide a dilemma?

What is the origin of ‘dilemma’?

What’s a word for ‘the lesser of two evils’? As many American voters like to joke, it’s the choice for the next President of the United States (or even between party nominees at this point in the 2016 campaign). But for word nerds like me, it’s a dilemma – which, speaking of evil, can still […]

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Lexicographer Imogen Foxell illustrates the OED Word of the Day

Illustrating the OED Word of the Day

If you’ve subscribed to the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day, or seen it on Twitter, then you may have wondered what the words would look like. You’re not alone in this: Imogen Foxell, an illustrator and Senior Editor in Oxford Dictionaries, often turns her artistic skills to portraying the OED Word of the […]

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Bob Marley lyrics discuss many aspects of Jamaician political life and the Rastafari beliefs.

Despite being one of the most popular musical artists of the 20th century, the actual lyrical content of Bob Marley’s output may be surprisingly obscure to many of his listeners. The average music listener is probably familiar with classic Marley tracks like “Jamming”, “One Love”, and “No Woman, No Cry”, although they may not be […]

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