Oxford Dictionaries

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A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries.

5 surprising origins of common bird names

A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries. The cuckoo is an obvious example of such an onomatopoeic naming, and so are the owl, the cockatiel, and many more. Some bird names, however, have a more intriguing linguistic history. Here we take a look at a few examples. Magpie […]

Video: bring or take?

Is a zebra a horse?

Shakespeare last lines

Quiz: last lines in Shakespeare

Famous last words! This quiz will test how well you remember the last lines of Shakespeare’s heroes and heroines – or villains and anti-heroes, perhaps. How well do you remember the words spoken when characters die – either at their own hands or the hands of others? Take our quiz and find out. William Shakespeare […]

6 earth expressions for Earth Day

6 earth expressions for anyone who loves Planet Earth

The word earth dates back to Old English, and its earliest meanings haven’t changed much over the course of centuries; earth still refers to the planet on which we live, and soil. If the primary meanings haven’t changed, then what other senses and nuances have been added and lost over the years? Earth to earth […]

Turn over a new leaf

8 unexpected origins of everyday phrases

Let’s take a look at some phrases whose origins might not be quite what you think… 1. Pass the buck We all know that buck is informal American English for a dollar. Indeed, it can also be used for an Australian dollar, a New Zealand dollar, a South African rand, and an Indian rupee – […]

swallows arguing

9 words to argue about with your friends

When it comes to pronunciation, there’s always something to argue about. And we’ve all done it –whether standing in line at Starbucks arguing about espresso or throwing down about whether or not to enunciate the ‘r’ in the second month of the year. So here’s more grist for the argument mill. 1. timbre If you’re […]

male and female animals

What are the names for male and female animals?

We previously looked at the names for specific baby animals, so now it’s time to turn our attention to words for male and female animals. Explore the list below to discover the names for a female hedgehog, a male swan, and many others. animal female male ant queen / worker drone antelope doe buck bear […]