2012 is a leap year in the Gregorian calendar, making it an appropriate time to consider the origin of this rather puzzling term. After all, leap implies that something is being skipped over, but a leap year has an extra day, making it longer than an ordinary year, not shorter. Where is the metaphorical leap […]
Film, that great popular art form of the twentieth century, is a valuable window on the evolving English language, as well as a catalyst of its evolution. Film scripts form an important element of the Oxford English Dictionary’s reading programme, and the number of citations from films in the revised OED multiplies with each quarterly […]
Word in the news: Romney-boated On New Year’s Day this year, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, expressing frustration at negative ads being run by pro-Romney groups, said “I feel Romney-boated”, coining a phrase and – just maybe – launching a new combining form. Gingrich’s neologism uses the second element in swift-boating, a term which dates […]
On January 3, America’s quadrennial race for the White House begins in earnest with the Iowa caucuses. If you find yourself wondering precisely what a caucus is, you’re not alone. The Byzantine process by which the US political parties choose their presidential nominees has a jargon all its own. Below is a brief guide to […]
From Happy Easter to Happy Halloween to countless Happy Birthdays, our felicitations hardly vary from one celebration to the next. Christmas is the notable exception, with the dominant descriptor being Merry. We wish our friends a Merry Christmas but a Happy New Year. Is there any difference? Not everyone’s Christmas is merry. Happy Christmas has […]
A menagerie of words Most English speakers could easily identify words like tomahawk, moccasin, or tepee as having Amerindian origins (from Virginia Algonquian, Powhatan, and Sioux, respectively), but indigenous American languages have given English many other words which have now become so fully naturalized that their roots often go unrecognized. In fact, fully half of […]
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- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
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- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
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- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
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- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
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- Language review 2013: from bitcoin to sharknado
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ICYMI: Word of the Day: meretricious - apparently attractive but having no real value... oxford.ly/1lv5q3M
Heinous and bogus or stellar and resplendent? We take a look at the language of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: oxford.ly/1sWEV6g
Find out the origin of the dollar sign ($): oxford.ly/1b4B5gw
Are treble and triple interchangeable? Our blog post has the answers... oxford.ly/184HBVp