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

Katherine Connor Martin

Katherine Connor Martin

Katherine Connor Martin is Head of US Dictionaries at Oxford University Press

Articles by Katherine Connor Martin


new words

Beyond the dictionary: the stories behind some of Oxford’s latest additions

cray The word cray, shortened for crazy, seems to have arisen in the early 2000s. It originally appeared in the reduplicated form cray cray, which appeared on Urban Dictionary as early as 2002. By the end of the decade, cray cray had been widely adopted in the language of the American blogosphere, as in this […]

on the radar

On the radar: July 2014

Oxford’s lexicography team monitors many new English words which are still too new or rare to be included in our dictionaries. Here is a roundup of a few neologisms that have caught our eyes recently. oxt Lexicographers typically discover new words when we encounter them “in the wild”, used unselfconsciously by people who are confident […]

OED appeals image

Skive and camouflage: an OED Appeals update

The original entries for skive and camouflage in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gave the impression that these words arose in the context of WWI; in the revised entries, that story has become more complicated, thanks to evidence supplied by the OED’s readers. In order to tell the full history of the English lexicon, the OED […]

jeans

Can -core survive normcore?

What do President Obama, Steve Jobs, and the Toyota Camry have in common? In recent weeks all three have been described as “normcore,” a supposed fashion trend in which the sartorial elite eschew their usual sui generis styles for dowdy clothing of the type ordinary people wear. The concept may have originated as satire, but […]

Word of the Year 2013: blips on our radar

Detail of selected items from the previous graph

As OUP’s lexicographers go about our quiet work, occasionally a novel word, spied in a newspaper, a post, or a tweet, catches our fancy. “Possible WOTY?!!!” we might email to a colleague, anticipating the year’s end. When we go back through those old emails months later, it is sometimes difficult to remember what inspired such […]

Bromance

The rise of the portmanbro

How an abbreviation of brother became a word-forming dynamo For most of its existence in English, the word bro led a quiet and unassuming life. For centuries, it was merely a graphic abbreviation of brother (properly bro.), occasionally put to colloquial use, like sis, to refer to a person’s male sibling. It wasn’t until the […]

twerk

What is the origin of ‘twerk’?

Well, if you hadn’t heard of the word twerk before this week, chances are you are now well and truly aware of its existence, thanks to Miley Cyrus’s well documented performance at MTV’s VMAs. If you’re unsure of its meaning, you’re in luck, as we added the word to Oxford Dictionaries Online in our recent […]

Zebra crossings: what zonkeys tell us about our love of hybrid words

Zonkey

Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the royal baby born last week, some media outlets found time to report on another notable birth: that of Italy’s rare donkey-zebra hybrid, Ippo, which is being called a zonkey. Zonkey, it turns out, is only one of several words for the semi-striped offspring of zebras and other equine mammals. […]

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