Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

cliches

Quiz: how well do you know your clichés?

When we think of clichés, we often think of a phrase that is trite and hackneyed, a person who stereotypically conforms to social constructs and labels, or something that is predictable and lacks ingenuity. The word cliché is of French origin, and originally meant a stereotype block bearing text that was used to produce multiple […]

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Video: how do new words get added to Oxford Dictionaries?

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cows in the oed

The peculiar history of cows in the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has hundreds of words that relate to cows. For most English speakers, the idea that anyone would need so many words for one specific animal probably seems absurd. Especially cows. Perhaps it’s their mysterious ubiquity throughout children’s books and TV shows or just the dull empty look in their eyes, […]

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Snobs and brain cracks: Thackeray in the OED

William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811, and before his death just over fifty years later he had written over thirty-five works. These include Catherine (1839-40), Pendennis (1848-50), and The Book of Snobs (1848) – the last of which popularized (and is currently the earliest known evidence for) the sense of snob as ‘a person who admires […]

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Mountain Bluebird

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary

Although Twitter (maximum 140 characters) and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (over 350 million characters) may seem like strange bedfellows, the former has recently become an integral part of the latter: for the first time, the OED has included individual Twitter posts as part of its quotation evidence. Twitter as historical evidence In recent OED […]

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John Simpson - Chief Editor, OED

John Simpson, former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, awarded OBE

Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), warmly congratulates former OED chief editor John Simpson on the receipt of an OBE for his services to literature. The 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list, published on Saturday 14 June, recognizes the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. The honour […]

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OED release notes: the language of World War I

By 1914 military involvement overseas had long been leaving its mark on the English language. We can go back to the Elizabethan age, for example, to England’s deep engagement in the Eighty Years’ War in the Netherlands and find loanwords entering English from both Spanish, the language of the enemy, and Dutch, the language of […]

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From flexitarian to evil genius: new words in the OED

The June 2014 Oxford English Dictionary (OED) update sees another wide range of words and senses entering the dictionary. We’ve had a focus on updating words connected with the First World War, to commemorate its centenary, but plenty of other words and phrases have been included in the OED for the first time. These range […]

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