Richard Holden

Richard Holden is an Editor for OED and Oxford Dictionaries

Articles by Richard Holden


Mountain Bluebird

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary

Although Twitter (maximum 140 characters) and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (over 350 million characters) may seem like strange bedfellows, the former has recently become an integral part of the latter: for the first time, the OED has included individual Twitter posts as part of its quotation evidence. Twitter as historical evidence In recent OED […]

PDF

Virtual reality: can a PDF be a hard copy?

Recently I was asked to “send a hard copy” of a document to a colleague in New York. I am in Oxford, and knew they didn’t want me to send it by Airmail, but instead just wanted the PDF forwarding. This, however, struck me as strange—a hard copy is usually specifically a paper version of […]

When it comes to Internet-related terms, it is often fashion that decides which words come in and out of use.

Surfing the Information Superhighway: the changing face of Internet language

It’s common to associate the Internet with all things modern and new, and so it’s perhaps unexpected that it can be considered to be nearly half a century old; the ‘symbolic birth date’ of the Internet has been declared 7 April 1969, the date of publication of the first RFC (Request for Comments) document. Much […]

the planet Mars takes its name from Mars, the Roman god of war.

Mars: a lexicographer’s perspective

The planet Mars might initially seem an odd choice for Place of the Year. It has hardly any atmosphere and is more or less geologically inactive, meaning that it has remained essentially unchanged for millions of years. 2012 isn’t much different from one million BC as far as Mars is concerned. However, here on Earth, […]

The Higgs boson: now considered real

The Higgs boson: now considered real

From a dictionary editor’s point of view, perhaps the main immediate outcome of the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson was the need to rework some definitions. Following the lead of physicists, the current Oxford Dictionaries definition doesn’t state definitively whether or not the particle actually exists: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted […]

digital

Word trends: digital

The word digital is one which has become very much associated with the modern world. However, it is not a modern word. The OED’s entry for digital actually contains evidence for the word as far back as the 15th century with the sense, ‘designating a whole number less than ten’. Another early sense referred to […]

Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

Sexting, troll, and logorrhea: unexpected entries in Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

Legal English is not just for the legally-minded. It can be arcane, yes, but it’s certainly not irrelevant – whether we’re agreeing a mortgage, reading about changes to the law, or (tut, tut) standing as a defendant in a trial, legal language is not something we can easily ignore. But it is still arcane – […]

The rise of the app

The rise of the app

For the increasing number of us who own a smartphone or tablet, apps have become a part of 21st century life. And they’re big business: the market in apps is now worth billions of pounds a year, and is growing rapidly. As smartphones — and the apps that run on them — have become more […]

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