Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

computer words

Old words for new: computer, discs, and magazines

We’ve all been talking about 😂, but last year’s Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year, vape, is a prime example of our capacity to save ourselves the trouble of inventing new words. Of course we can do it when we have to (think television, aspirin, kryptonite), but we’re also very good at recycling existing words […]

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james murray oed first page

5 facts you probably didn’t know about James Murray

2015 marks the centenary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray’s work as a lexicographer is well known, but there was a great deal more to him than lexicography. We are therefore marking the anniversary with an occasional series of articles highlighting other aspects of his life […]

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Photo of Woody Allen at the Cannes Film Festival

16 Woody Allen quotations

One of the most iconic comic voices in American history, the stinging wit and dry sensibility of Woody Allen offers a distinctly cynical take on 20th– and 21st-century life. In celebration of Allen’s 80th birthday, we took a look through the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (5th ed.) and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (8th […]

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emoji language

Beyond words: how language-like is emoji?

The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking for many, brands the decision ‘ridiculous’ — after all, an emoji is, self-evidently, not a word; so the wagging fingers seem to […]

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Bond villain Blofeld and his cat

11 acronyms that are actually ‘backronyms’

Everyone knows what an acronym is – an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, like ‘NASA’ or ‘NATO’ – but not all know what a ‘backronym’ is. While acronyms are formed from phrases or names that exist beforehand, a backronym is an acronym deliberately created to suit […]

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murray children

Did you know that James Murray… had eleven children, all of whom helped in the compilation of the OED?

2015 marks the centenary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray’s work as a lexicographer is well known, but there was a great deal more to him than lexicography. We are therefore marking the anniversary with an occasional series of articles highlighting other aspects of his life […]

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three dogs

8 great band name origins

One thing that rock bands are known for are their creative names. There’s the legendary name of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, named for Florida high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner who taught several of the band’s members, and who was remembered for enforcing the high school’s rule about no long hair on men. There’s […]

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bonfire

Preparing for Bonfire Night: which word would you burn?

This survey is now closed. Thank you for your contributions! What’s your least favourite word? As Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) approaches, we’d like to know which word you’d turn into an effigy. Bonfire Night is celebrated on 5 November in the UK; bonfires and fireworks are lit in memory of the […]

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