A common trick of slang is to invert meanings, so that seemingly negative words are used as terms of approval. Bad and wicked are two established examples, although it may surprise you to see just how far back their positive uses go. The OED records ‘bad’ and ‘wicked’ used in a positive sense as long […]
We might spend our days on the Net, but we all love books at Oxford Dictionaries Online. Here’s an interactive quiz in honour of World Book Day, which gives a selection of words to be matched up with the authors who invented them. Think that Oscar Wilde coined the word witticism? Click to play and […]
In the 1990s teenagers called everything and everyone sad – but in the early 2000s this favourite word of disapproval was overtaken by random. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, even those well out of their teens can be heard using it. According to the OED, the ‘without method or conscious decision’ sense […]
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert < King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra < > King George V and Queen Mary < > King George VI and Queen Elizabeth < > Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh < > Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales < > The happy couple: Prince […]
Oxford Dictionaries Online is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful words, as well as practical help with grammar, English language usage, and writing. Among the 350,000 definitions and entries in our free online dictionary, you will find thousands of words related to animals, from abalone to zorse. If you’ve never heard of a boodie […]
A lot of people get these two words confused. It’s easy to see why: they’re pronounced in the same way and have very similar spellings but they have completely different meanings. If you compliment someone, you are expressing admiration for them, or praising them for something. Here are some examples from the Oxford English Corpus showing the […]
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK: that day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America and South Africa it is the second Sunday in May; in Britain it has become another term for Mothering Sunday. According to A Dictionary of English Folklore as cited […]
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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