Simon Thomas

Simon Thomas works in Marketing for Oxford Dictionaries.

Articles by Simon Thomas


bug

Critters, jitters, and transmitters: the history of ‘bug’

Bug has various common uses, and none of them are particularly pleasant. Whether you’ve come down with a bug, found a bug on your phone, worried about the Millennium bug, or been bitten by a bug, you’re unlikely to welcome the bug into your life. But how did the word come to mean such disparate […]

church

Words you learn at the vicarage

I share something in common with Jane Austen, Tori Amos, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Vincent van Gogh: I am the child of a clergyman. Growing up in a Church of England vicarage has given me insights to faith, diplomacy, and how best to run a coffee morning – but it’s also a window into a very […]

ocean

Water, water, everywhere: how we named the oceans

Happy World Oceans Day! To celebrate, we’re taking a look at the linguistic roots of the world’s five oceans. Before we start, what of ocean itself? The word comes to English via Latin from the Greek ōkeanos, which meant ‘great stream encircling the earth’s disc’. The word ocean originally denoted the whole body of water […]

clothes cat

12 nouns that are always plurals

If you, like me, are a half-ashamed watcher of various fashion reality shows, you might be familiar with phrases like I’d like to pair this with a navy pant or Maybe a smoky eye and a red lip. There is an assumption of an implied plural when the singular versions of these words are used […]

shoes

Something’s afoot: investigating the names for shoes

Whether you’re a shoe aficionado or somebody who regards footwear as merely something to help avoid standing on nails, you might be interested in the etymological backgrounds to the names of some common varieties of shoe. We’ve taken five of them, and traced their – perhaps surprising – linguistic histories… Clog You probably know that […]

tree

Branching out: tree idioms and phrases

Many countries around the world have days on which citizens, companies, and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. These are usually observed in spring – which, of course, is at different times of year depending upon hemisphere – and the last Friday of April is National Arbor Day in the US. The […]

maths

Putting two and two together: mathematical expressions

As somebody who loves words and English literature, I have often been assumed to be a natural enemy of the mathematical mind. And, if we’re being honest, my days of calculus and the hypotenuse are behind me, but, with those qualifications under my belt, I did learn that the worlds of words and numbers are […]

queen_large

Language fit for a queen

British queens – whether monarchs in their own right or married to a king – have had an impact on English language, as befits royalty. Perhaps most obvious is the use of their names to refer to historical periods (such as the Victorian or Elizabethan eras), but that is far from their only legacy to […]

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