Oxford Dictionaries

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Placeholder names in English and other languages

Just your average Svensson: placeholder names in English and other languages

If you follow politics, you will have noticed that politicians often invoke the cliché of the ‘man in the street’. You may have heard them referring to the average Joe, Joe Bloggs, John Public, Joe Sixpack, etc. when talking to an audience, addressing everyone and no one, rather than someone in particular. The English language […]

A dog is wreaking havoc in the kitchen.

‘Wreak havoc’ or ‘wreck havoc’?

The harsh Southwest sun can wreak havoc on a wood deck. Last summer’s hot, dry weather wrecked havoc on soybean seed production. Do you know which one is correct? English speakers often confuse ‘wreak havoc’ with ‘wreck havoc’. The confusion is more than understandable: both words are nearly homophones (they sound alike) and also are spelled […]

National Year 2 Grammar Test

Can you beat a primary school pupil at a grammar test?

Do you know as much about grammar as a 7 year old? Try this quiz to see whether you could pass the UK National Year 2 Grammar Test. This quiz first appeared on the Global OUP website. 

The Indian national flag. Lots of languages and dialects are spoken in India, including Indian English.

How good is your Indian English?

The English language, as spoken around the world, has several borrowings from languages native to India, including Hindi (‘dinghy’), Gujarati (‘bungalow’), Sanskrit (‘jungle’), among many other examples. Indian English, obviously, has even more of these types of terms. It also includes many formations of English words, as opposed to these loanwords. That means that Indian English […]

Shakespeare and money

Quiz: Shakespeare and money

Shakespeare’s characters often spoke about money – but do you know who said what? Take our quiz and see how well you do…   William Shakespeare was an English dramatist, poet, and actor who is often considered the greatest writer in the English language. His vast collection of work includes sonnets, comedies, historical plays, great […]

Virginia Woolf quotations

5 beautiful Virginia Woolf quotations

25 January 1882 was the day on which Virginia Woolf was born. To celebrate the birthday of the renowned novelist, essayist, and feminist icon, we’ve taken a look in Oxford Essential Quotations to pick out some of her most memorable moments. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” […]

pies and cakes in English idioms

Pies and cakes in English idioms

It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]

National Hugging Day

14 ways to hug

Did you know that 21 January was National Hugging Day in the United States? It was created in 1986 and has spread to many other countries in the world – so we encourage you, if others don’t mind, to hug at least one person today. But what if you get tired of the word hug […]

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