Simon Thomas

Simon Thomas works in Marketing for Oxford Dictionaries.

Articles by Simon Thomas

Archaic and unusual names for relatives

Archaic and unusual names for relatives

We all know that there are quite a few different ways to say ‘father’ in English, from dad and daddy to father, pater, and the old man. Taking a look into the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary reveals some unusual or archaic variants – and the same is true for almost any relative […]

Names for food in British and American English

Names for food in British and American English

You say tomato, I say tomato… but sometimes we say completely different things depending on whether we’re eating in the UK or America. We’ve put together some US and UK variants for common foods, along with a bit of history – so we won’t just help you out when ordering from a foreign menu, we’re […]

What do they call French toast in France?

What do they call French toast in France? (And other similar questions)

In English, many things are named after a particular country – but have you ever wondered what those things are called in those countries? Some things remain the same (Russians say Russian roulette, or rather русская рулетка, for instance) but plenty don’t. From French toast and Turkish delight to Brazil nuts and English breakfast – […]

phrases with run

6 ‘run’ phrases you probably don’t know

The word run might mean many different things to you. Personally, it makes me figuratively run for the hills, such is my feeling about exercise. Run might also make a lexicographer blanch; it is a strong contestant for the verb with the most meanings, at over 650 (this of course includes phrases and phrasal verbs). […]

Get happy with the word ‘happy’

Get happy with the word ‘happy’

From one of the first Mr Men and one of the seven dwarves to happy hour, happy is a word that crops up from childhood onwards. We take a look at how it has been used in the English language in various idioms, as well as its history and some synonyms. Happy through the years […]

road expressions

On the road: expressions with the word ‘road’

Road is, of course, a pretty common word. It’s even left its mark on a couple of cult favourite novels, as I discovered when listening to somebody describing the plot of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road only to realize, when they’d rather thrown me by mentioning cannibals, that they were thinking of Cormac McCarthy’s The […]


15 ways to say ‘maybe’

We’ve already given you the lowdown on the many and various ways you can say ‘yes’ and ‘no’, and now we want to liven up the vocabulary of the less committed. What happens if you want to stay on the fence and say ‘maybe’? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Peradventure Archaic or humorous now, […]

Pairs of words that share an etymology

Unlikely couples: 8 pairs of words you didn’t know shared an etymology

Like an extended family with some unsuspected relations, sometimes you come across words which have very different modern-day meanings but unexpectedly share an etymological element in their background. salad / salary Salad and salary obviously have a lot of letters in common, but which other word unites the two? Perhaps surprisingly, it’s salt – or, […]