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


If Obama had been Lincoln: 10 lines from Obama’s Second Inaugural Address that wouldn’t have been used in 1865

Abraham Lincoln

When writing his screenplay for the film Lincoln, playwright Tony Kushner used his copy of the Oxford English Dictionary to check for possible anachronisms, seeking to impart the flavor of 19th-century English to the script. How much has the vocabulary of English changed since Abraham Lincoln’s presidency? About 25% of the OED’s entries are for words […]

Oxford Dictionaries USA Word of the Year 2012 is ‘to GIF’

wordoftheyear-2012-GIF-final (1)

Today, OUP announced their Oxford Dictionaries US Word of the Year for 2012. Katherine Martin was one of the lexicographers on the judging panel, and here are her reflections on the shortlist. GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the […]

The fiscal cliff

The fiscal cliff

On Wednesday morning, after months of focusing on the electoral horserace, Americans awoke to find themselves in a perilous position; we had been sleeping at the edge of the fiscal cliff. But how did we get here? The metaphor of a fiscal cliff – meaning an anticipated event which will have dire economic consequences unless an […]

British, American, and both: a history of Halloween words

British, American, and both: a history of Halloween words

The holiday of Halloween has its roots in the British Isles; the word itself (short for All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day on November 1), originated in Scotland. Nonetheless, it was in North America that disparate regional customs were amalgamated into the celebration we recognize today. The vocabulary of the holiday reflects […]

Green on blue, unboxing, and brass: on the radar in September 2012

On the radar: September 2012

The origin of green on blue The phrase green on blue has been used with tragic frequency in recent weeks to describe attacks by Afghan soldiers on Coalition troops in Afghanistan. Green on blue is modeled after an earlier phrase, blue on blue, referring to inadvertent clashes between members of the same side in an […]

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

Monday, September 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which spawned a movement that spread from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to public spaces around the US, the UK, and the world. Although the Wall Street encampment was cleared out only two months later, it had already left a mark on the […]

What’s so super about Super PACs?

What's so super about Super PACs?

Back in January we published a short glossary of the jargon of the presidential primaries. Now that the campaign has begun in earnest, here is our brief guide to some of the most perplexing vocabulary of this year’s general election. Nominating conventions It may seem like the 2012 US presidential election has stretched on for […]

Grexit, Spanic, and clown: July 2012 on the radar

Grexit, Spanic, and clown: July 2012 on the radar

Each month we reflect on some of the new words Oxford’s lexicography team has been tracking—words that are being used in English but are not yet sufficiently established for inclusion in our dictionaries. Would-be words of the eurozone crisis The Eurozone economic crisis which has dominated headlines this summer has yielded a bumper crop of […]

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