While Isaac Newton could have watched anything fall to the ground for his Eureka moment – a cherry from a cherry tree, a peach from a peach tree, a partridge from a pear tree – the apple is undoubtedly the fruit with which he is most closely associated. Apparently, seeing an apple fall from a […]
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 […]
- 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?
ICYMI: Word of the Day: interfuse - join or mix (two or more things) together... oxford.ly/1uXnCs5
Are you a hashtag or an apostrophe? Take our quiz to learn which punctuation mark best captures your personality: oxford.ly/1CbsDiO
Word of the Day: interfuse - join or mix (two or more things) together... oxford.ly/1uXnCs5
Which punctuation mark are you? Take the quiz to find out: oxford.ly/1CbsDiO