Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Passenger pigeon

Quiz: how well do you know archaic animal names?

On 1 September 1914, Martha, thought to be the last surviving passenger pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Once numbering in the several billion in North America, the passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction in the wild by the end of the 19th century, with only a few birds left in captivity. One of the […]

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Facekini

Word in the news: facekini

The latest fashion trend to hit beaches has been raising eyebrows – but you wouldn’t know it, since the eyebrows (along with the rest of the face) can’t be seen behind the facekini. First reaching popularity in 2012 in China, this balaclava-like stretchy nylon mask is intended to protect the face from tanning and UV-rays […]

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2014-08-28 15_12_59-Which-English-words-came-from-Arabic.png (PNG Image, 1723 × 4884 pixels)

Which everyday English words came from Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary, we’re taking a look at English words of Arabic origin. Using the infographic below, find out which everyday English words came from Arabic, and track how they occur in other languages… Oxford Dictionaries | Arabic is a groundbreaking new online dictionary of Modern Standard Arabic and English based […]

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Why learn Arabic?

Why learn Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary (in print and online), the Chief Editor, Tressy Arts, explains why she decided to become an Arabist… When I tell people I’m an Arabist, they often look at me like they’re waiting for the punchline. Some confuse it with aerobics and look at me dubiously […]

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Stock market report with bull and bear

Bulls, bears, and the other business animals of Wall Street

The finance world famously has almost a language all of its own, ranging from complex financial jargon to the playful slang of the stock market. What that means is that within the thicket of terms like VaR, backwardation, contango, tranche, and junk bond, we find some familiar animal friends — although often in some strange […]

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Swift Swift

Quiz: Taylor Swift or Jonathan Swift?

As Taylor Swift’s music video for her single “Shake It Off” goes viral, one question coming up on the Internet over and over again is whether or not it succeeds as a satire. Having previously received criticism about her dancing skills, the video follows Swift as she attempts ballet, break-dance, contemporary dance, rhythmic gymnastics, cheerleading, […]

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compound nouns

Cupboards and bro hugs: investigating compound words

The new words update for August is out, and some of you might have noticed that a few of the new words look suspiciously like there are two of them (I’m looking at you, air punch, bro hug, and spit take). That’s because, in dictionary terms, a word is something that conveys a single unit of […]

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Poe and Lovecraft

The inventive words and worlds of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft

To celebrate this week’s birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, one of Gothic horror’s most acclaimed authors, here is a brief look into the contributions H.P. Lovecraft and fellow Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe have made to the English language. Poe’s words Though Edgar Allan Poe, the progenitor of the modern day horror genre (across all mediums), […]

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