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

Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

Verily, this tomfoolery must be quashed!

Verily, this tomfoolery must be quashed!

‘Cripes! What bally tomfoolery are those diabolical cads in the media coming up with now?’ I asked my betrothed, when confronted with a spate of recent news reports. ‘Verily, I must quash this balderdash forthwith.’ Had I perhaps been hit on the head with the King James Bible or been immersed for a year in […]

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Slactivism, dadrock, and bibimbap: ODO quarterly update November 2011

ODO quarterly update November 2011

This year’s momentous events have had an impact on the new additions to our online dictionary. Arab Spring, describing the series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, is now included, as well as phone hacking, the scandal which caused a storm in the UK that reverberated all the […]

What were the most-viewed words in Oxford Dictionaries Online last month?

Search monitor

Well, you certainly had a comprehensive rummage through our free online dictionary last month, rooting out less common words, such as obstreperous and egregious, while also taking a closer look at some everyday essentials including run, get, and take. Whether you were looking up words which can be tricky to spell, such as achieve, definitely, […]

Oyez, oyez, oyez! Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

Oyez, oyez, oyez!

Legal English is not just for the legally-minded. It can be arcane, yes, but it’s certainly not irrelevant – whether we’re agreeing a mortgage, reading about changes to the law, or (tut, tut) standing as a defendant in a trial, legal language is not something we can easily ignore. But it is still arcane – […]

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Reports of the death of the cassette tape are greatly exaggerated

Cassette tapes

A few months back Oxford University Press received a good deal of attention in response to an announcement about new words that would be added to the 12th edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (among them mankini, cyberbullying, and retweet). While the responses were largely positive, there was a certain amount of disquiet, which is […]

Swaggering bullies, strutting models, and parading bands

Swaggering bullies, strutting models, and parading bands

He marched forward on to the lectern with the possessive insouciance of a hoodie swaggering on to his sink estate. [Guardian 5 October 2011] This evocative description of British PM David Cameron as he stepped up to address the recent Conservative Party Conference prompted me to think about the verb ‘swagger’ and how it’s often […]

Seventy years young

Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

Borrowed words We all find at times that we reach for the words of others to express just what we want to say. Gleaming red berries through the fog of a September morning may remind the more literary of John Keats’s ‘season of mists, and mellow fruitfulness’. The Indian summer of 2011, on the other […]

It’s all about the nuance – synonyms and the Oxford English Corpus

It’s all about the nuance

There are few words that share an exact set of definitions – it is almost a guarantee that there will be some subtle differences between one word and its synonym.  Sometimes these nuances are so subtle that they can be difficult to articulate fully in a definition, and only become apparent through examining usage. Oxford […]

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