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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In case you missed it earlier... Word of the Day: glee - great delight, especially from one's own good fortune… oxford.ly/1s6BZVm
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What is the longest English word containing no letter more than once? oxford.ly/UNFofp
In a nutshell, cutting the mustard by the skin of your teeth: popular idioms explained oxford.ly/T3vfXC