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

Jenny List

Articles by Jenny List


Cheers, slainte, bottoms up… the language of beer

The language of beer

I have a school friend who follows Arsenal F.C. wherever they go. His devotion to the team takes him on a yearly tour of the English Premier League, but has also sent him to football-crazy cities all over the world. He has a simple philosophy with respect to learning foreign languages that would probably shock […]

Flannel trousers are not English!

Celtic cross

One of the facets of English that makes a job working with dictionary data so interesting is its readiness to appropriate loanwords from other languages – seeing the etymology of a familiar word such as ‘ketchup’ for example, and finding it probably has its origins in Chinese. Everybody needs good neighbours We see plenty of […]

We plough the fields and scatter…

We plough the fields and scatter…

To drive away from our base here in Oxford and out into the surrounding countryside at this time of year is to witness a scene of intense activity. It’s harvest time, and since the British climate can be unpredictable the farmers are moving as quickly as they can to bring in their crops before the […]

All hail the superbike!

All hail the superbike!

Congratulations to Carlos Checa, winner of Round 9 of this year’s Superbike World Championship held yesterday at Silverstone Circuit, a relatively short ride north from our base here in Oxford. If you are not a motorcyclist and you have never been to a race meeting, then the excitement and adrenaline generated by the spectacle may […]

When ‘bittersweet’ is a good thing

Apples

For cider makers, June was probably a busy month. October’s apple pressing produced the juice which has been quietly fermenting through winter and spring, and now the rough young cider must be put into bottles and set aside to mature. Cider-making has a rich vocabulary, so to ease my slight guilt at not yet having […]

‘Hacker’ is a badge of honour where I come from

Hacker

A trait that is common to logophiles everywhere is the linguistic pet peeve: a word or phrase that sets our teeth on edge when we encounter it.  A colleague of mine cringes whenever she hears someone refer to an initialism as an acronym, for example. Pet peeves One of my pet peeves relates to my […]

Of course ‘clownvestite’ is a word!

Clown

Part of my job involves finding the extent to which Oxford Dictionaries Online is being linked to from other websites. To perform this task I query the search engines, and to see how you use our dictionary I visit a proportion of the websites linking to ODO that I find. A significant proportion of inbound […]

The F-word: how often do people *really* look it up?

Graph

If you are a seasoned OxfordWords reader, you may be familiar with our periodic search monitor pieces. These are interactive tag clouds, each showing a month’s snapshot of the relative frequency with which you, the users of Oxford Dictionaries Online, access different words. The words and ranks you see are drawn from our web statistics […]

Tweets