American football player

12 football terms you should know for Super Bowl Sunday

Although the basics of American football are clear to most Americans, some of the terms are still a bit more unfamiliar. Most people know what a pass is, and why we refer to players as running backs and receivers, but you probably don’t know why a long (nearly hopeless) pass is called a Hail Mary […]

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Rome_large

When in Rome… read some place name idioms

We recently looked at people’s names in common expressions, and now it’s the turn of place names. Why do certain locations become proverbial, and which place-related idioms have fallen out of favour? Sent to Coventry No disrespect intended to the people of Coventry, but, idiomatically at least, it is not a very pleasant place to […]

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punctuation

Which punctuation mark are you?

Is there anything more important than punctuation? Providing us with stops, pauses, exclamations, questions, and even social media savvy, punctuation marks have been breaking up and clarifying our language for quite some time. Spend a few moments taking our quiz and learn which punctuation mark best captures your personality!

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writing competition

Word of the Day short story competition winner announcement

The OxfordWords blog is pleased to announce that Christian Boatswain has won our competition to include every Word of the Day from November in a story and secured a one-year gratis Gold subscription to OxfordDictionaries.com, as well as £50 worth of OUP books. Now, with so many delightful and creative entries, picking a winner wasn’t […]

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telephone

Did you know that James Murray… was called ‘the grandfather of the telephone’?

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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Handwriting

How well do you know the language of handwriting?

Sponsored by the Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association and celebrated each year on January 23rd, National Handwriting Day (US) reminds us of the vast and varied tools, systems, industries, arts, and styles that have been fashioned, practiced, and, more often than not nowadays, ditched for more computational alternatives over the course of human history. Handwriting is […]

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cat meme large

The language of memes – and how to create your own

English is a truly global language with hundreds of regional variations worldwide, including over 50 dialects of British English alone. It is also the primary language of the internet, and the virtual world has spawned its own varieties of English too. These online dialects, often spread by memes, have been around long enough now for […]

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pencil

Lord Byron in the OED

Lord Byron, one of Britain’s greatest poets, was born on this day in 1788, so we thought this might be a good opportunity to trace his influence on the English language. We have consulted the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and discovered more about Byron’s innovative use of language. While all the words listed below existed […]

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