Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Category: Competitions and quizzes

Answer a question about bikinis and win a Kobo Glo!

Answer a question about the bikini, and win a Kobo Glo!

On 5 July 1946, the first bikini went on sale. The first modern bikini, that is, since there is evidence that bikini-like garments have existed for thousands of years – the mother-goddess of Çatalhöyük, in southern Anatolia, is depicted in a costume similar to a bikini in the Chalcolithic era, around 5600 BC.  Similar depictions were […]

Mother’s Day limerick competition: the winner

Mother's Day limerick

Thank you very much to everyone who entered our recent competition, where we asked you to compose a limerick to celebrate Mother’s Day (13 May in the US and various countries around the world) since it coincided with Limerick Day this year. This competition closed on Wednesday 29 May. We had many exceptionally good entries, […]

A limerick competition for Mother’s Day: win an iPod Touch

A limerick competition for Mother’s Day

The appreciation for limericks, such as Edward Lear’s nonsense verses, is well-documented here on the OxfordWords blog. As is an appreciation for mothers.  Since Mother’s Day and Limerick Day coincide this year in the US, what better way to celebrate both than with a mom-themed limerick competition? (The competition is, of course, open worldwide.) How […]

Bible or Bard?

Bible or Bard?

23 April, as every schoolchild knows, is probably the birthday, and definitely the deathday, of England’s most famous writer: William Shakespeare, often known simply as the Bard. (We don’t know his exact birth date, but he was baptized on 26 April, and it lends his life an appropriately poetic balance to assume he was born […]

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Vampires say the funniest things! A quiz of quotations from famous bloodsuckers

Vampires say the funniest things! A quiz of quotations from famous bloodsuckers

Like those of the creature itself, the origins of the word vampire are somewhat mysterious. The word comes to English from the Hungarian, perhaps having its roots in a Turkish word for a witch. It was introduced into English around the early 1700s in fascinating accounts of European legends. A little later in the same […]

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How well do you speak money?

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When the US Congress passed the original National Currency Act on February 25, 1863, a single currency for the United States of America was established for the first time. This momentous event not only brought the nation together economically, it also ushered in completely new and dynamic ways to talk about money. The Oxford English […]

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Tolkien’s etymologies

Tolkien's etymologies

I’m tremendously excited about the film version of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit that’s coming out in the UK this week. As a child, my favourite film was the 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings by Ralph Bakshi. When I say it was my favourite, I suppose I mean that it […]

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Jane or Jones?

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Jane Austen’s novels and letters are frequently cited in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), putting her work currently as the 253rd most frequently quoted source in the OED, with a total of 1,620 quotations. Of these quotations, 44 currently provide the very first evidence of a particular word, including the adjective ‘fragmented’ (from Northanger Abbey: […]

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