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Alice book


WordWatch roundup: minion, Kuiper belt, derecho, and Eid

minion The spike in lookups of the word minion – ‘a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one’ – should surprise no one, given that the film Minions entered theaters a few weeks ago. The pill-shaped film ‘minions’, speaking a gibberish language and about the size of fire hydrants, […]


Legislation meets lexicography: the campaign for dictionary recognition of the word ‘upstander’

Oxford University Press frequently receives requests from members of the public to add a particular word to our dictionaries, but an official legislative resolution supporting a word’s inclusion may be unprecedented. Nonetheless, that is what happened on June 29, 2015, when the New Jersey State Senate approved a resolution “urging Merriam-Webster, Inc. and the Oxford […]


OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word ‘email’?

Can you help us? OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, […]


Quiz: bear or bare?

Bare and bear are homophones – that is, they sound the same – but have very different meanings. Do you know how to use these two correctly? Test yourself with our quiz, or swot up with all you need to know about bare and bear.

Video: who or whom?

ice cream

6 things you didn’t know about ice cream

‘I know everything about ice cream’, we can hear you saying, as you spoon it straight out of the tub into your mouth, relishing every moment. Well, we don’t doubt your expertise at ingesting the stuff – and we’re pretty partial to it ourselves – but there are some linguistic aspects to the ice cream […]


Weather idioms: winds and storms

We recently took a look at idioms from around the world that use rain as a metaphor; today we turn our attention to those from German, Chinese, Russian, and more, that use winds and storms to get their point across. 1. In den Wind schreiben Language: German Translation: To write in the wind What does it […]