Dim sum small

Having a yen for dim sum this Chinese New Year: English words of Chinese origin

Chinese New Year traditionally means a time for families to gather together, usually over some delicious foods. There are certain foods that are associated with Chinese New Year, such as Buddha’s Delight, a dish made with many different vegetables, fish, dumplings, and mandarin oranges. These particular foods are chosen because the words used to describe […]

Read more »
Melchizedek champagne is how you refer to one of those enormous bottles of the alcohol.

Melchizedek champagne and other champagne word facts

It’s always difficult to say “Hello!” to January and “Good-bye…” to the holidays. Suddenly we find ourselves bogged down by the usual January blues—not to mention subjected to Blue Monday’s annual arrival — and burdened by certain debts after all that sweet and savory celebrating. Cookies, cakes, candy…butter cast haphazardly into every bubbling pot or […]

Read more »
birthday words

8 words which share a birthday with the OED

On 1 February in 1884, the first instalment of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published. Containing 352 pages of dictionary entries, it covered the words from A to Ant. 44 years later the first edition of the OED was finished, comprising 125 of these fascicles. To celebrate the anniversary of the OED, we’ve drawn together some […]

Read more »
stack of books

Deadly games, a blaze, and a song: book titles in translation

Speaking from experience, it is often incredibly difficult to come up with a good title for a book. A buzzword we often use is ‘catchy’. But what makes for a catchy title? And what are the implications for other markets? Once you’ve decided on what you proudly think is the best book title anyone has […]

Read more »
kangaroo

Kangaroo: the international and regional word

In 1788, Governor Arthur Phillip and his fleet of ships arrived in Australia, in the area that would become Sydney, in order to establish a convict colony. Governor Phillip had in his possession a list of Aboriginal words, provided to him by the botanist Joseph Banks (and called ‘the New Holland language’), which it was […]

Read more »
tartan large

The meaning of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and other Scottish words

The following is adapted from the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins. Scotland has given English many words—some from the Gaelic language, some from Scots, and others reflecting links to further shores. The Scots poet Robert Burns (1759–96) has also weighed in with memorable expressions. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ Anyone who has ever been to a New […]

Read more »
Mischievous or mischievious? The child here is definitely being it.

Mischievous or mischievious?

Our most recent poll asked our readers the following question: Which spelling would you have chosen? If you had gone with mischievious you would have been with the majority of our voters – 53% of people chose this spelling. However, the standard accepted spelling is in fact mischievous, chosen by 47% of our readers. Make […]

Read more »
Janus words

Janus words quiz

January is named after the Roman God Janus, the god of comings and goings. Janus was always depicted with two faces looking different ways and was the guardian of doorways and gates, often carved on entrances. You can see why even today he would be an apt representative for January, a time when people look […]

Read more »

Tweets