Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

Video: what is the origin of the word vape?

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Clues, code-breaking, and cruciverbalists: the language of crosswords

The recent release of The Imitation Game has revealed the important role crosswords played in the recruitment of code-breakers at Bletchley Park. In response to complaints that its crosswords were too easy, The Daily Telegraph organised a contest in which entrants attempted to solve a puzzle in less than 12 minutes. Successful competitors subsequently found […]

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children reading

How do we decide which words to include in our children’s dictionaries?

Compiling a small dictionary for children is never easy – so many words competing for space in a book with a finite number of pages. Animals and plants, clothing, fruits and vegetables, musical instruments, body parts, animal noises … the list is endless. They can’t all go in. We know that, but it’s still painful […]

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thesaurus

5 things you can do with the Historical Thesaurus of the OED

The Historical Thesaurus of the OED is a unique resource charting the semantic development of the huge and varied vocabulary of English. It is the first comprehensive historical thesaurus ever produced for any language, and contains almost every word in English from Old English to the present day. With 800,000 words and meanings, in 235,000 entry categories, the […]

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Do gay people speak their own language? A linguistic look at Polari

Nellyarda, zhoosh the riah, titivate, schlumph your Vera down, and palare that omee for the bevvies because I’ve nanti dinarli. (Translation: Listen, style your hair, make yourself look pretty, drink up your gin, and talk to that man to get a drink because I’m skint). The words you’ve just read are Polari words. Polari encompasses […]

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Tweens, teens, and twentysomethings: a history of words for young people

In August 2010, the cover of the New York Times Magazine half-wondered, half-complained to the world, “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” The article was a splashy survey of research being conducted by psychology professor Jeffrey Arnett into what he called “emerging adulthood”—better known as “your twenties.” […]

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Jingle Bells in the Historical Thesaurus of the OED

To celebrate the festive season, we’ve taken the lyrics to the much-loved song ‘Jingle Bells’ and fed certain words through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, giving a version that has an identical meaning, but very different appearance and sound. The words that have been altered are (as you will no doubt realize) in […]

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monkeys

9 monkey phrases and their meanings

Monkeys have it tough in the English language. Generally speaking, being called a monkey (or invoking one) does not bode well. While silliness is certainly the most common connotation, association with a monkey can also mean foolishness, aggravation, environmental terrorism, and cold. Here are nine examples of monkey language: cold enough to freeze the balls […]

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