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

Elizabeth Knowles

Elizabeth Knowles is a historical lexicographer who worked on the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (4th edition, 1993), and is Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (7th edition, 2009). Her other publications include How to Read a Word (OUP, 2010). She has contributed to Volumes 2 and 3 of The History of Oxford University Press.

Articles by Elizabeth Knowles


Large press

The compilation of dictionaries: are we there yet?

Dictionary projects can famously, and sometimes fatally, overrun. In the nineteenth century especially, dictionaries for the more recondite foreign languages of past and present (from Coptic to Sanskrit) were compiled by independent scholars, enthusiasts who were ready to dedicate their lives to a particular project. This may make for an exhaustively comprehensive text; it doesn’t […]

Seventy years young

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Borrowed words We all find at times that we reach for the words of others to express just what we want to say. Gleaming red berries through the fog of a September morning may remind the more literary of John Keats’s ‘season of mists, and mellow fruitfulness’. The Indian summer of 2011, on the other […]

Ancient roots—from acre to Zeus

Sanskrit

What, a language quiz might ask, links acre as a name for a measure of land (recorded in Old English, and coming from Germanic) with the name of the Greek god Zeus? Or candy (with its Arabic ancestry) with pepper (coming to Europe via Greek)? The answer—all have related forms in Sanskrit—opens up a fascinating […]

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