If you’ve ever said Bob’s your uncle or called someone a smart Alec, you might have asked yourself: why do certain names appear in common English expressions? While several (such as Champagne Charlie, Billy-No-Mates, and Nosey Parker) began life as fictional characters in popular culture, others apparently refer to real individuals. We explore some of […]
The film Exodus, directed by Ridley Scott and released this month, is part of a continuing trend of depicting the Bible on screen. Noah was released earlier in 2014, and Christian scripture has long provided material for the silver screen – from The Passion of the Christ and The Ten Commandments to (more tangentially) Monty Python’s […]
6 November is World Saxophone Day, apparently. It’s the anniversary of the day the inventor was born – we’ll share his name a little later. We thought it was a good opportunity to produce an alphabet of interesting instrument names, from accordion to zither. As far as possible, we’ve tried to stick to common instruments […]
We recently tested non-Brits on their knowledge of British English; now it’s time to turn the tables and see how well English-speakers outside of North America can handle the mysteries of American English. Have a go, and let us know how you do. Good luck! Quiz: how good is your American English? Game Over Hair […]
If you’ve heard of A.A. Milne, there is almost certainly one reason for that – and that reason is a Bear of Very Little Brain, otherwise known as Winnie-the-Pooh. It was on 14 October 1926 that his eponymous story collection was first published (although he had already made an appearance in the poetry book When […]
There are two famous riddles about chickens. One investigates the reasoning behind the chicken’s desire to cross the road (“to get to the other side”), while the other poses the ontological quandary: “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” We shan’t attempt to answer the question in a philosophical or biological manner, but we […]
The language of coughing is not, on the face of it, a particularly expressive one. Most usually associated with colds and winter mornings, it isn’t a medium that lends itself to communication – indeed, it is more likely to disperse a crowd than attract eager listeners. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring the […]
- Affect versus effect
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- Compliment or complement?
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Principle or principal?
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- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is… vape
- Video: acronyms and initialisms – what’s the difference?
- Feeling bright? 8 historical synonyms for ‘clever’
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- America’s war on language
- The peculiar history of cows in the OED
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- 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
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Alaafia to kapayapaan: words for 'peace' around the world oxford.ly/1DRsUJ2
ICYMI: Word of the Day: cumbersome - large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry… oxford.ly/1AlMdX8
The Oxford Dictionaries Community is asking about the format to use when writing foreign words. Can you help? oxford.ly/1zHmwjD
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