I have been Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations for over 15 years, and the interest of the work is as keen as ever. The joy of ODQ is that its content (based firmly on what is being quoted) is unpredictable and uncontrollable: no-one, however cleverly they craft a current soundbite, can ensure that […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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Try our new literary words quiz in the top-right corner of this page: oxford.ly/1tfF2xQ
Word of the Day: demoralize - cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope... oxford.ly/1z4yeW6
ICYMI: Word of the Day: oleaginous - rich in, covered with, or producing oil; oily... oxford.ly/1pHzCFK
When is a book a tree? We look into the uncertain history of the word 'book'... oxford.ly/1ijCqFe