22 March is World Water Day, and 23 March is World Meteorological Day, so what better time to celebrate our fascination with foreboding forecasts? Threatening thunderstorms and disconcerting downpours crop up time and time again in popular proverbs and quotations, and not least because of the abundance of words that rhyme with ‘rain’. Perhaps the […]
10 February is an important date this year because it is the first day of the new lunar year, marking the first day in the Chinese New Year. The Chinese calendar names each of the years (in a twelve year cycle) after an animal, and 2013 is the Year of the Snake. Chinese New Year, also […]
Described by John Ayto as ‘steaming fragrant black cannonballs’ in his newly published The Diner’s Dictionary, it is not hard to see why Christmas pudding is a luxury afforded only once a year. The rich combination of suet, raisins, currants, spices, eggs, and brandy often leaves diners in a food-induced stupor at the end of […]
- Affect versus effect
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- Compliment or complement?
- Principle or principal?
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… vape
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- Video: acronyms and initialisms – what’s the difference?
- Feeling bright? 8 historical synonyms for ‘clever’
- Gallery: new quotations in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
- America’s war on language
- The peculiar history of cows in the OED
- What do you call a group of…
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
One sense of 'bum' probably comes from the German 'bummeln', which means 'to stroll about': oxford.ly/1K2CEy2
Word of the Day: quintillion - a thousand raised to the power of six…oxford.ly/1Dgkd6O
Cross the Rubicon, take the road to Damascus, and carry coals to Newcastle with our blog post on place name idioms: oxford.ly/15I6ytT
'Discomfit' and 'discomfort' are etymologically unrelated, despite now both meaning ‘to make someone feel uneasy’: oxford.ly/1mQpyqU
When in Rome… read some place name idioms oxford.ly/15I6ytT