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 […]
The latest fashion trend to hit beaches has been raising eyebrows – but you wouldn’t know it, since the eyebrows (along with the rest of the face) can’t be seen behind the facekini. First reaching popularity in 2012 in China, this balaclava-like stretchy nylon mask is intended to protect the face from tanning and UV-rays […]
You may have heard the word bangarang in the tribute paid to Robin Williams by US President Barack Obama, after the sad news of Williams’ death yesterday, and wondered what it means. Barack Obama said that “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, […]
When filmmakers turn to the world of literature for inspiration, often they decide that the author made the best choice for title, and leave well alone. It doesn’t take an expert to spot that Joe Wright’s film Pride and Prejudice (2005) is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen. Even with the […]
William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811, and before his death just over fifty years later he had written over thirty-five works. These include Catherine (1839-40), Pendennis (1848-50), and The Book of Snobs (1848) – the last of which popularized (and is currently the earliest known evidence for) the sense of snob as ‘a person who admires […]
S.O.S became the worldwide standard distress signal (particularly in maritime use) on 1 July 1908, having first been adopted by the German government three years earlier. It has since entered the awareness of those who are unlikely ever to summon help at sea – appearing in contexts as varied as the title of songs by […]
When this article was in the brainstorming stage, it started with the simple intention of pointing out that a ladybird was neither a bird nor a lady (I don’t mean to impugn the ladybird’s reputation; I am speaking of the definition rather than the insect’s moral character). Along the way we thought we’d point out […]
Any avid reader has their favourite characters, whether they be from classic fiction, much-loved children’s literature, or contemporary novels. Quite a few characters have given their names to words relating to their traits or appearance – Eeyoreish, for instance, appears in our dictionaries as an adjective meaning pessimistic or gloomy, based on Eeyore from A.A. […]
- Affect versus effect
- Grammar myths #2: please miss, can I start a sentence with a conjunction?
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Lie or lay? Laying down the law on some puzzling verbs
- Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?
- Compliment or complement?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- Principle or principal?
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- Which classical character are you?
- Talking proper: the language of U and Non-U
- 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
- How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones
- What do you call a group of…
- 20 words that originated in the 1920s
- How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?
- Infographic: a closer look at ‘selfie’
- What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin
- Why did Tolkien use archaic language?
Historical terms for 'drunk' include pottical, swacked, & malty. Learn more historical synonyms for everyday words: oxford.ly/1v3rOTW
Did you know that the '@' sign originated as a quick way of writing the Latin word 'ad'? oxford.ly/HDQU7D
We explain the rules of ‘Newspeak’ – George Orwell’s fictional language in Nineteen Eighty-Four: oxford.ly/1DUPbTY
Word of the Day: bouffant - styled to stand out in a rounded shape...... oxford.ly/1CCxpDb
ICYMI: Word of the Day: bamboozle - cheat or fool... oxford.ly/1xtIXbK