With Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia passing measures on 4 November to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington as US regions where the sale of the drug is (or will be) legal, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the language surrounding the contested cannabis plant. Not unlike other much-discussed […]
You may well be familiar with the origin of the sandwich. The story opens in mid-18th-century England with John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, and a particularly distracting run at the gaming table. In fact, the distraction proved so great that Montagu forewent formal meals and refreshments, and instead requested the simple snack of […]
17 October marks what would have been the 100th birthday of Jerry Siegel (d. 1996), who, along with artist Joe Shuster, created Superman, one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. The mark left by Superman on today’s pop culture landscape is incalculable; not only has he been featured in comic strips […]
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, the prison drama following the lives of prisoners Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman). Overshadowed by Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction in the year of its release, the film has demonstrated an incredible staying power over the past […]
12 October 2014 marked the return in the US of AMC’s The Walking Dead, the zombie drama that follows several groups of survivors as they navigate a post-apocalyptic Georgia. Now in its fifth season, the show (and its comic book source) has made a mark in the world of zombie fiction thanks to a gritty, […]
Anyone who’s ever had to learn to read sheet music will know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes literally be like learning another language. Besides parsing those tricky lines, dots, tails, and bars, there are also the snatches of foreign languages – mostly Italian, along with the occasional word of French, […]
If you’re an English speaker and have spent any time in an English-speaking country not your own, you know how different the language can be. Sometimes the differences are slight – for example, the stress on different syllables of weekend between British and American English (wiːkˈɛnd vs. ‘wēkˌend, respectively) – but sometimes the differences are […]
On 1 September 1914, Martha, thought to be the last surviving passenger pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Once numbering in the several billion in North America, the passenger pigeon was hunted to extinction in the wild by the end of the 19th century, with only a few birds left in captivity. One of 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
- OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?
- Compliment or complement?
- Principle or principal?
- Rein or reign? Hold your horses before applying pen to paper…
- The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…
- What do you call a baby owl and other baby animals?
- 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?
What is the origin of 'posh'? Our video addresses one theory... oxford.ly/1vRNuVt
Word of the Day: peart - lively; cheerful... oxford.ly/1Fuftu8
ICYMI: Word of the Day: Sprachgefühl - intuitive understanding of a language’s natural idiom… oxford.ly/1yVgZmV
Did you know that 'youngman', 'asmuch', and 'aswell' were all once common words? More on fused words in today's post: oxford.ly/1vhVlZB