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

Malie Lalor

Articles by Malie Lalor


Dinosaur Words

Dinosaur

Dinosaurs – those prehistoric animals that walked the earth long before humans were a twinkle in evolution’s eye – fascinate many of us. Not only are we drawn to their ‘monstrous’ and otherworldly appearance, we also find their names intriguing. ‘Lizard hips’ and ‘bird hips’ A dinosaur can be any of a large number of reptiles […]

South African English: braais, babalaas, and a monkey’s wedding

Kombi

On 27 April South Africans celebrate Freedom Day, the anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. As a South African ex-pat living in the UK and working for Oxford Dictionaries, I often think about the similarities and differences between the English spoken ‘back home’ and standard British English. Robots have taken over the […]

Beware the hares of March

Hare

When I think about the month of March, two things spring to mind: the March hare from Alice in Wonderland and the familiar quotation from Julius Caesar:  ‘Beware the ides of March’. In my mind, the two have become somewhat conflated, so I always picture ‘the ides of March’ as a posse of incongruously terrifying […]

Are you calling me a geek? Why, *thank you*

Geek

Geek has seen an interesting transformation in meaning over the last couple of decades. The word used to be a cruel and critical label attached to clever, but socially awkward, people – such as computer or science geeks. The origin of this sense of the word can be traced back to the late nineteenth century, […]

Happy birthday, Charles Dickens

The Pickwick Papers

Charles Dickens, born just under 200 years ago on 7 February 1812, is one of the most quoted writers in English. In addition to quotations, such as ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …’ (A Tale of Two Cities), several colourful characters from his novels have permeated the English […]

It’s Groundhog Day

Groundhog

When I found out that today is Groundhog Day, my mind immediately jumped to the sense in which I know this phrase: when you feel as if you’re reliving a tedious experience over and over again – like Bill Murray’s character in the 1993 film. What, there’s a special day dedicated to this?! Of course, […]

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