Denny Hilton

Denny Hilton is Senior Editor at the OED.

Articles by Denny Hilton


auto

The AUTO- age

‘Self’ reference How readily someone may be understood when using a new word will depend on several factors: the intuitable transparency of meaning, its clarity in context, the receptiveness of the audience, and so on. It’s scarcely surprising, then, that coiners or early adopters of new terminology often exhibit a certain hesitancy. Among the early […]

The birth of disco

The birth of disco

It was this month in 1959 when a nightclub opened its doors in the quiet city of Aachen, West Germany, and a small revolution in music took place. The Scotch-Club was similar to many restaurant-cum-dancehalls of the time, with one exception: rather than hire a live band to provide the entertainment, its owner decided instead […]

snobs

Pleb or snob?

An altercation between a politician and some policemen featured heavily in the UK press this week and prompted thousands of extra hits on the Oxford Dictionaries definition of ‘pleb’: Plebeian first appeared in English in 1533 with reference to Roman history, meaning ‘a Roman commoner’, or ‘a member of the plebs’. The plebs were the […]

Thomas Browne

Sir Thomas Browne and the Oxford English Dictionary

Few authors cited in the Oxford English Dictionary are responsible for as many unusual words as the seventeenth century physician, Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682). Browne’s erudite enquiries into science and religion are notable for their wit, their fascination with the natural world, and their attraction to the esoteric, and all of these characteristics are evident […]

cocktail

The language of cocktails

People and places Biographical details of Colonel Joseph Kyle Rickey are sparse and difficult to track down, but those we have offer a fascinating sketch of an eclectically talented American. Born in 1842 and variously employed as a soldier, politician, and entrepreneur, Rickey’s name stands out in an age of pioneers and frontiers for one […]

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