What have Italian composer Rossini and American rapper Ja Rule got in common? A number of possible answers may leap to mind here, but the one I’m looking for is that the two musicians were both born on a date that is mysteriously elusive: 29 February. Except that 2012 is a leap year, and so […]
Cast your mind back to your twelve-year-old self stuck in the classroom on a Friday afternoon in the middle of a French lesson. (Or German, or Spanish, for that matter.) If you grew up as a native monolingual English speaker, what was the thing you struggled with the most when learning a foreign language? Was […]
Did you know that the Oxford Language Dictionaries Online Words of the Day are handpicked by teams of editors who scour the dictionaries looking for a little quirkiness to brighten up your day? Or that you can easily sign up to receive these Words of the Day by email in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, […]
We were lost – having turned off a brand new and completely empty motorway that cut across the lush green hills of the West coast of Ireland in a quest to visit my Irish mother’s third cousins twice removed. So we finally pulled up next to an old road sign, which confusingly said: ← Knockroe Knockroe […]
Try this experiment: think of a word, any word, that we use regularly in English which has clear Italian origins before reading on. Ready? It’s more than likely you’ve come up with a gastronomic term – a snap poll I took last week placed pizza, spaghetti, and cappuccino as front runners (along with ciao, which […]
Just a few weeks ago Christine Lindberg explored phrases and idioms that revealed the somewhat surprising way in which the English language describes man’s best friend. But what about that equally popular household pet – the beloved, fluffy, crazy cat? (Those three adjectives are among some of the most popular in the English language to […]
If you didn’t already know, this Friday is Earth Day, an environmental awareness day celebrated around the world each year on 22 April since 1970. The Earth Day Network is looking for a billion separate ‘acts of green’ to be pledged and carried out by individuals aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and to promote […]
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Word of the Day: coloratura - elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody... oxford.ly/1j58Rbq
OED Appeals – can you help to solve the bibliographic mystery? oxford.ly/1gAgxQS
In case you missed it: Word of the Day: maelstrom - a powerful whirlpool in the sea... oxford.ly/1gFc2YV
This time it’s not a word that has the OED team scratching their heads, it’s a source: oxford.ly/1gAgxQS