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

What were your top lookups in the past year?

What were your top lookups?

As part of our occasional search monitor series, here’s a clickable word cloud displaying about 350 of your most-viewed words in Oxford Dictionaries Online. Instead of looking at the last month, we thought it would be fun to look at the most looked-up words since Oxford Dictionaries Online’s inception. Over the last year a lot […]

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Unspellable words? Impossible!

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s phrase ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’ points us to the un- words, an unexhausted yet unassuming and unexplored group of words which stand as a challenge to Napoleon. The Emperor once said ‘the word impossible is not in my dictionary’. Dictionaries have got a lot better since Napoleon’s day and impossible […]

Of course ‘clownvestite’ is a word!

Clown

Part of my job involves finding the extent to which Oxford Dictionaries Online is being linked to from other websites. To perform this task I query the search engines, and to see how you use our dictionary I visit a proportion of the websites linking to ODO that I find. A significant proportion of inbound […]

The F-word: how often do people *really* look it up?

Graph

If you are a seasoned OxfordWords reader, you may be familiar with our periodic search monitor pieces. These are interactive tag clouds, each showing a month’s snapshot of the relative frequency with which you, the users of Oxford Dictionaries Online, access different words. The words and ranks you see are drawn from our web statistics […]

How a new word enters an Oxford Dictionary

New word infographic

We’ve recently updated Oxford Dictionaries Online with bajillions of new words and terms, from fnarr fnarr and nom nom to mankini and luchador. But have you ever wondered how a word earns its place in Oxford Dictionaries Online? We’ve created this handy infographic to show you the journey of a word, from its inception to […]

Fnarr fnarr, phwoah, and mwah

Onomatopoeia

Taking a first glance at a list of recent additions to a dictionary, most of us will instinctively seek out the very new. Sometimes it’s their simple sparkle of novelty that attracts – the latest updates to Oxford Dictionaries Online include ‘upcycling’, ‘surveilling’ and ‘wantaway’; others engage through the picture they give of the world […]

How to write a slang dictionary

Green's Dictionary of Slang

1.      Cancel your appointments ‘Have you ever thought of writing a slang dictionary,’ an editor asked in 1993 and although I had, a decade earlier, and published it, I said only, ‘Yes.’ And had a publisher. The problem, in these globalizing days, is keeping them. There would be four before the book finally appeared. I […]

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Your friendly neighbourhood Corpus

Corpus

Shades of rhetoric: a hot-button word Much of the content and information found in Oxford dictionaries is provided by the Oxford English Corpus, a database of current English usage that has over two and a half billion words and is fully searchable, allowing shifts in meaning to be observed far more rapidly than they were […]

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