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

Oxford Dictionaries

Articles by Oxford Dictionaries


Food, glorious food: take our quiz

Pretzel

Travel broadens the mind, they say, but it can also enrich the language as a whole. Food names have entered English from many routes: as imported goods were brought to our shores in past centuries, we encountered terms such as garam masala and macaroni. Later additions to the language reflect the growth of mass travel […]

Mitigate or militate?

Mitigate or militate

These two verbs have similar spellings and they sound alike when they are pronounced. As a result, it’s easy to get them confused, even though their meanings are completely different. Mitigate means ‘make something less harmful, severe, or bad’. It’s often used in formal or official contexts, as in the following sentences from the Oxford […]

Father’s Day words

dad

Father’s Day is that day of the year on which fathers are particularly honoured by their children, usually with greeting cards and gifts. It was first observed in the state of Washington in 1910. In the US, South Africa, and Britain, it is usually the third Sunday in June; in Australia, the first Sunday in […]

Rulers and monarchs in ancient and modern times

Crown

The second Saturday in June sees the birthday parade of Queen Elizabeth II. This annual display of pomp and pageantry on London’s Horse Guards Parade is known as trooping the colour, and marks Her Majesty’s official birthday – while her real birthday is on 21 April. The Queen’s official birthday is celebrated in many Commonwealth […]

Bawways and smellsip: James Joyce’s English

Bloomsday

‘Bloomsday’ is commemorated throughout the world on June 16, celebrating the day, in 1904, on which the action of James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel Ulysses takes place. The word cloud above showcases just a few of the contributions to the English language made by James Joyce in all of his works, not just Ulysses. From dreck […]

What were your top lookups in May?

Top lookups May

As part of our occasional search monitor series, here’s a clickable word cloud displaying about 350 of your most-viewed words in Oxford Dictionaries Online during May 2011. Literally literally gets the prize for the most popular word, perhaps down to its more informal and sometimes humorous usage. Plagiarism also features, although we hope not only […]

Schmick new words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online

Free running

We’ve managed to spare a few femtoseconds in our busy schedule to add some schmick new words to Oxford Dictionaries Online. Whether you enjoy crafting, free running, or just surfing the Internet on your lappy, you’re sure to find something to interest you amongst the new additions. The world of computers and social networking continues […]

Mapping the origins of English

Mapping the origins of English

Today’s English owes much to many of the world’s languages, from French and German to Chinese and Hindi. Our interactive map below is the first of an occasional series which will offer you a glimpse of the range of linguistic influences that English has absorbed.

Click on the map to see how English has been shaped by French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Flemish. Your armchair travels should give you some interesting discoveries: could you guess the origins of fluff, anchovy, vamoose, and baize?

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