For those of us immersed in preparations for Christmas, the time remaining feels insufficiently brief, and the few weeks since Thanksgiving seem more like a few days. As fleeting as time is between Turkey Day and December 25, we in the US possess a peculiarly American interpretation of when the Christmas season “begins.” My British […]
Having undertaken . . . a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends […]
The vestiges of Halloween linger in various front yards and on the occasional porch step, but mostly by now the skeletons and witches have retreated into storage along with the gossamer spider webs, howling mummies, and detached body parts that adorned our neighborhoods so cheerfully in our annual salute to October 31. A contraction of […]
I do not grieve the passing of summer the way some folks I know do. Indeed, I grew up in a household where the turning leaves evoked a collective sigh of dismay, as if the ungreening of foliage were signaling another inevitable death march into darkening afternoons and mornings too cold to bear. As the […]
If you love words, chances are you have a favorite dictionary and probably a well-used thesaurus. Your bookshelves may hold some specialized resources as well – books about usage, idioms, puzzle solving, vocabulary building, rhyming, and so forth. If you have a particular fondness for words with an unusual flavor, you’ve probably browsed through books […]
The English economist Sir Roy Forbes Harrod (1900–1978) once said that, compared to all the scholars he had known at Oxford and Cambridge, the Reverend William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930) was the most exceptional in “scholarship, devotion to duty, and wisdom.” There is no reason to question Harrod’s assessment, but that’s not exactly the imprint for […]
Bad habits are hard to break A bad practice in writing (and speaking) is redundancy. Anyone who has sat through a speech that goes round and round and uses the same few words over and over knows what I mean. We may sometimes do this deliberately, for stylistic reasons, or in order to raise the […]
I love dogs. I think I was just born that way. Given that I’m part of a vast community of canophilists, it’s never made sense to me that dogs often feature in an unfavorable way in English. Every group in the animal kingdom is represented in at least a few phrases, idioms, allusions, and metaphors, […]
- Affect versus effect
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Compliment or complement?
- Principle or principal?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- Which classical character are you?
- Talking proper: the language of U and Non-U
- Feeling bright? 8 historical synonyms for ‘clever’
- Gallery: new quotations in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
- America’s war on language
- The peculiar history of cows in the OED
- How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones
- What do you call a group of…
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- Infographic: a closer look at ‘selfie’
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
Word of the Day: rebuff - reject (someone or something) in an abrupt manner…... oxford.ly/1owjo7x
ICYMI: Word of the Day: retroflex - turned backwards... oxford.ly/12928uF
We explore how Doris Lessing’s upbringing and surroundings have influenced her writing: oxford.ly/1tet06K
Floccinaucinihilipilification: is it the act of considering something brilliant, or worthless? Find out which... oxford.ly/1p1EXeO
What do you call your evening meal? Let us know in our poll: oxford.ly/1CWfQwj