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

Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

bestie-friends

OED quarterly update: March 2014

The latest update to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) saw our team of lexicographers continue their revision of the dictionary, which involves adding new words and phrases, as well as updating existing entries. If you’re interested in why we’re revising the OED and the work it entails, you can find out more here. This quarter’s […]

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planets

Christopher Marlowe in the OED, from planeting to quinquangle

The works of Christopher Marlowe (the playwright, poet, and alleged spy) not only had an influence on William Shakespeare’s early historical plays, but also on the English language itself, as is evident from the number of times his works are quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). His plays and poems are currently quoted a […]

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US Supreme Court

How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?

For 20 years, 14 of those in England, I’ve been giving lectures about the social power afforded to dictionaries, exhorting my students to discard the belief that dictionaries are infallible authorities. The students laugh at my stories about nuns who told me that ain’t couldn’t be a word because it wasn’t in the (school) dictionary […]

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alpine skiing

10 words you need to know for Alpine skiing

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are underway, and we are celebrating this season of sport in the best way we know how: with words. For the duration of the Games, we are featuring terminology from many of this year’s competed sports. Today’s wordlist primer focuses on: Alpine skiing Are you an avid schussboomer? Whether you […]

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philippines

How can World Englishes benefit from crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is one of the biggest Internet buzzwords today. Believed to have been coined by a US journalist in 2006, the word refers to the practice of accomplishing complex tasks by enlisting the help of a large number of people. Using the Internet to harness the collective intelligence of a crowd has proved successful in […]

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8 words which share a birthday with the OED

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Large press

The compilation of dictionaries: are we there yet?

Dictionary projects can famously, and sometimes fatally, overrun. In the nineteenth century especially, dictionaries for the more recondite foreign languages of past and present (from Coptic to Sanskrit) were compiled by independent scholars, enthusiasts who were ready to dedicate their lives to a particular project. This may make for an exhaustively comprehensive text; it doesn’t […]

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sharknado

Language review 2013: from bitcoin to sharknado

Everyone loves a new word. When Oxford announces its Word of the Year, I sometimes detect behind the buzz of expectation a pang of disappointment that the chosen ‘winner’ isn’t a brand new invention. The romantic allure of a mint-new coinage, the inspiration of a single moment in time, is hard to resist. The truth […]

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