Oxford Dictionaries

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mountain names

How did mountains get their names?

In August 2015, President Obama announced that North America’s highest mountain, Mount McKinley, would be renamed. Its new moniker, Denali, was actually its original Aleut name, meaning ‘the high one’. The previous name, on the other hand, only dates back to 1896 – the year when it was named in honour of William McKinley (1843–1901), who was […]

Frank Sinatra in the studio

The language of Frank Sinatra

One of the most significant musical artists of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra was a major cultural figure from the early 1940s up to his death more than half a century later in 1998. While Sinatra is not necessarily remembered for his language – most of the songs he’s remembered for were written by others […]

blurry US flag

Quiz: American phrases to confuse Brits

Thanks to the worldwide interest in American culture, English speakers around the world are familiar with odd American English expressions like bury the hatchet, pass the buck, and take a rain check. But no matter how many Hollywood movies you watch, there are still probably American idioms that will catch you by surprise. Take a stab at our quiz […]

Photo of Woody Allen at the Cannes Film Festival

16 Woody Allen quotations

One of the most iconic comic voices in American history, the stinging wit and dry sensibility of Woody Allen offers a distinctly cynical take on 20th– and 21st-century life. In celebration of Allen’s 80th birthday, we took a look through the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (5th ed.) and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (8th […]


OED timeline challenge: can you guess when these words entered the English language?

Do you know when laugh entered the English language? What about cricket or fair-weather friend? Take the OED Timeline Challenge and find out if you are a lexical brainiac (1975). To play, simply drag the word to the date at which you think it entered the English language. Please note that the dates given for […]

Highland cow

How well do you know Scottish words and phrases?

Scotland is observing St Andrew’s Day today — the feast day of their patron saint. Let’s celebrate with them by testing our knowledge of the Scottish tongue:

"Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." - The Bible (1611)