OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the phrase jolly hockey sticks?

Can you help us? OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, […]

Read more »
500 words

500 words: stories from a wider world

The BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition, run by the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, asks children aged 5-13 to compose an original work of fiction in no more than 500 words. For the past four years, Oxford Dictionaries for Children has collected and analysed all of the words used by young writers in the competition. […]

Read more »
Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner and the use of pronouns

Until recently, the name ‘Bruce Jenner’ evoked various images in people – a movie-star handsome Olympic athlete, or a reality show participant with the in-laws. No one, however, is likely to have thought, ‘I wonder if Bruce Jenner feels like a woman inside?’ Over the past year or so, Jenner has been increasingly open about […]

Read more »
apple pie a la mode

Quiz: how well do you know sweets around the world?

The world of cuisine is rich in language, often with borrowings from a wide array of cultures, names that follow recipes as they are exchanged across continents and oceans. But when food travels, sometimes the meanings are lost in translation; when you ask for apple pie à la mode in the US, you will get […]

Read more »

“A poem should not mean / But be.” - Archibald MacLeish

Read more »
less fewer

Quiz: ‘less’ or ‘fewer’?

Have you watched our video about when to use less and when to use fewer in a sentence? Then it’s time to test yourself with our quiz:

Read more »

Video: ‘less’ or ‘fewer’?

Read more »
song map

Map: many songs for the Eurovision Song Contest

On 23 May, the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will be taking place in Vienna, Austria – and celebrating the 60th time the competition has taken place. We’re celebrating by looking at translations of the word song in the languages of each country that is participating in this year’s contest – which includes, for the first […]

Read more »