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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Word of the Day: verbose - using more words than are needed…... oxford.ly/1vvw69f
ICYMI: Word of the Day: vicarious - experienced in the imagination through another person's feelings…... oxford.ly/1yweBmm
Did John F. Kennedy call himself a jam doughnut when he said 'Ich bin ein Berliner'? Here's the answer: oxford.ly/1BTHkYa
Click through our timeline to discover the history and language of smoking: oxford.ly/11yQgkO
Read about the day John F. Kennedy did NOT call himself a jam doughnut: oxford.ly/1BTHkYa