An extract from the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins Chinese civilization stretches back at least to the 3rd millennium BC. It is the source of many of the world’s great inventions, including paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing, not to mention china (porcelain) itself. But maybe the greatest contribution that the country and its language have […]
Our latest quarterly update to Oxford Dictionaries Online has seen a selection of new words, definitions, and senses added to the dictionary. The words originate in a range of spheres from food (branzino, cranachan) and music (beat-match) to astronomy (protoplanet) and, unsurprisingly, technology (lock screen, headcam), and include a variety of different word forms, from […]
An extract from the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins Yiddish, based on German dialect combined with words from Hebrew and Slavic languages, was spoken by Jews in central and eastern Europe before World War Two. It is still used in Israel and parts of Europe and the USA, especially New York, and has added an extra […]
To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (1914–18), the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is revising a set of vocabulary related to or coined during the war. Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, and for this we need your help. Our first quotations are often […]
Our most recent poll asked our readers the following question: Which spelling would you have chosen? If you had gone with ‘mischievious’ you would have been with the majority of our voters – 53% of people chose this spelling. However, the standard accepted spelling is in fact ‘mischievous’, chosen by 47% of our readers. Mischievous […]
January is named after the Roman God Janus, the god of comings and goings. Janus was always depicted with two faces looking different ways and was the guardian of doorways and gates, often carved on entrances. You can see why even today he would be an apt representative for January, a time when people look […]
John Simpson recently retired as chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Before he left, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his time at the helm of our historical dictionary. Watch the videos below to learn how life at the OED has changed since John Simpson joined in 1976, […]
Maritime safety and early-Hollywood sex symbols may not seem to have much in common, but the etymology of the Mae West life jacket manages to connect these two very different worlds. 17 August is the birthday of Mae West, the American actress whose controversy and fame help to explain the many ways in which she […]
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Was the first computer ‘bug’ a real insect? oxford.ly/1n2Wzmo
Ideogram: a character symbolizing the idea of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it. oxford.ly/1eMtXP1
Word of the Day: coloratura - elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody... oxford.ly/1j58Rbq
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