film reel

That’s a wrap! The origins of filmic language

“Film is history.” I’m reminded in the above quote by Martin Scorsese (who, impressively, enters his 49th year as a feature film director in 2012) that film and history are inextricably linked. By its very nature, a film is a historical artifact—a record of some past action that preserves the moment for time to come. Film, […]

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The Twihard Years: the language of the Twilight Saga

The Twihard Years: the language of the Twilight Saga

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga has been one of the most successful franchises of the decade. On the back of her four incredibly successful books, there have been four box office hits (the fifth being released in the UK this month), a spin-off book, extensive fan fiction – indeed the mummy-porn sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey […]

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Where do odd idioms like 'in a nutshell' and 'by the skin of your teeth' come from?

6 popular idioms explained

Let’s have a look at some of the curious idioms found in the English language. The explanations are often stranger than you might imagine! Where does the expression ‘by the skin of my teeth’ come from? After Shakespeare, a prolific coiner of new words, the King James translation of the Bible has been the biggest […]

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In pictures: 10 Word of the Year runners-up

Oxford Dictionaries last night announced that ‘omnishambles’ (UK) and ‘GIF’ (US) are their Words of the Year for 2012. Here, appropriately, we’ve GIFed ten of the other words the judging panels were considering. Definitions Mobot: a characteristic gesture as performed by the British long-distance runner Mo Farah on winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres events […]

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'Omnishambles' is the Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012

The Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012 is ‘omnishambles’

Today, OUP announced their Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year 2012. Fiona McPherson was one of the lexicographers on the judging panel, and here are her reflections on the shortlist. A common misconception about the work of a lexicographer is that we sit around in the manner of a cabal each week and argue […]

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GIF

Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012 is ‘to GIF’

GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate. The GIF, a compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple, looping animations, turned 25 this year, but like so many other relics of the 80s, it […]

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The fiscal cliff

The fiscal cliff

On Wednesday morning, after months of focusing on the electoral horserace, Americans awoke to find themselves in a perilous position; we had been sleeping at the edge of the fiscal cliff. But how did we get here? The metaphor of a fiscal cliff – meaning an anticipated event which will have dire economic consequences unless an […]

'Macadamize' is a hybrid word meaning to pave a road.

Hybrid words and the development of English

I’ve recently noticed a trend for recipes to insist that I absolutely must use unsalted butter. Now I love the creamy taste of locally produced organic butter as much as the next person, it tastes much nicer with honey on bread than the salted sort. Nevertheless I just don’t get why, when I’ve melted my unsalted […]

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