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

Oxford Dictionaries

Articles by Oxford Dictionaries


OED WW1 timeline

100 words that define the First World War

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) World War I timeline shows some of the ways in which the events of the First World War left their mark on the English language. For example, the wet and muddy conditions of the first winter of trench warfare were evoked in the term Flanders mud (November 1914), while trench boots and […]

letters

Limerick competition: the winners

When we asked for people to craft limericks about their favourite words, we weren’t sure what to expect. Would the OxfordWords readers rise to the occasion? Well, they did – and they did so magnificently. The most popular ‘favourite word’ was winner (we see what you were trying to do there…) and they ranged from ossify and snide to […]

A book by any other name

A book by any other name

Following on from our post about the etymology of the word book, we’ve delved into the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to find different words for book and various types of book through time… they’re in the word cloud above, and the list below.  anagraph – a record or register of events. anagraphy – an anagraph. […]

10 tricky pronunciations

10 tricky pronunciations

Recently we learned – if we were in any doubt – that Nike want their name pronounced Nikey (or, to put it in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), ˈnʌɪki). Those of us familiar with our Greek deities already knew that the company’s namesake and goddess of victory pronounced her name that way, but opinion differed […]

Book quiz

Book quiz: can you spot titles borrowed from other books?

The Fault in Our Stars, based on the 2012 novel by John Green, is released in cinemas this month. The title is adapted from a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. In Act 1, Scene 2, Cassius says: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings. Of course, […]

The language of Thomas Hardy

The language of Thomas Hardy

Writing about Hardy’s poetic language, Edmund Blunden, one of his most perceptive critics, noted that it is ‘sometimes a peculiar compound of the high-flown and the dull. If he means “I asked” he is liable to say “I queried” or rather “Queried I”; he is liable to “opine” instead of think. … He goes his road […]

Maya Angelou quote

Maya Angelou’s legacy encompasses poetry, essays, and autobiographical writing. With a distinctive voice and a love of language, it is unsurprising that she is currently quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as supporting evidence for 42 entries. These range from make-believe to maternal, poetess to privacy. She also appears several times in Oxford Essential Quotations, including the quotation above.

puffin

5 (more) words you didn’t know were acronyms

In 2013 we offered you a list of acronyms which you might not have known were acronyms, from scuba to care package. We even called Robert Pattinson ‘R-Patz’ along the way, for which we’re still feeling a little bit ashamed. To atone, we’ve delved back into the dictionary, and come up with another five acronyms […]

Tweets