Expectant parents don’t generally have a lot of spare time for idly perusing the dictionary, but if they did, they would find that the vocabulary of the event they joyfully anticipate has undergone significant changes over the centuries. Consider, for instance, the verb to deliver. In contemporary use, the mother is often the subject of […]
The Oxford English Dictionary is founded upon millions of quotations, which trace the history of each word starting with its earliest recorded use. America’s presidents are well represented among the authors of those quotations; after all, they are influential speakers and writers whose words are painstakingly recorded and preserved. Presidential quotations often turn up in […]
If Obama had been Lincoln: 10 lines from Obama’s Second Inaugural Address that wouldn’t have been used in 1865
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
- Kotodama: the multi-faced Japanese myth of the spirit of language
- Henry James, or, on the business of being a thing
- Can -core survive normcore?
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- Looking for love… and other popular search terms from 2014 so far
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- Make mine a double: speaking of twins
- Farmily album: the rise of the felfie
- Language review 2013: from bitcoin to sharknado
- Infographic: a closer look at ‘selfie’
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
In case you missed it earlier... Word of the Day: glee - great delight, especially from one's own good fortune… oxford.ly/1s6BZVm
Achy-breaky words: the language of the nineties oxford.ly/1o8fVce
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