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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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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Word of the Day: dulcify - sweeten... oxford.ly/1dEIXeH
Word of the Day: flânerie - aimless idle behaviour... oxford.ly/PccljP
In case you missed it: Word of the Day: laconic - using very few words oxford.ly/P7Pq9g
Interactive timeline of loanwords in English: trace how the language has developed over time oxford.ly/1kSNCuM