Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

The usage of ‘thing’ to mean ‘generally known phenomenon’ has become remarkably popular in recent years.

When did ‘thing’ become a thing?

In May 2014, this blog briefly noted the rise of a new usage of the word thing to mean ‘generally known phenomenon’. This usage has been remarkably popular in recent years. Comedians, always alert to niceties of language, have called attention to the word’s new connotation. Recently, John Oliver introduced a new segment, titled ‘How […]

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What do they call French toast in France?

What do they call French toast in France? (And other similar questions)

In English, many things are named after a particular country – but have you ever wondered what those things are called in those countries? Some things remain the same (Russians say Russian roulette, or rather русская рулетка, for instance) but plenty don’t. From French toast and Turkish delight to Brazil nuts and English breakfast – […]

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Oxford Dictionaries for Children have chosen 'refugee' as the 2016 Children's Word of the Year.

Children’s Word of the Year 2016: refugee

Our Children’s Dictionaries department have announced the Children’s Word of the Year for 2016: refugee. The word was chosen after analysing the entries to the 2016 BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition, in which young people age 5-13 were invited to compose an original work of fiction on any subject or theme, using no more than 500 words. This […]

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raised hand

An OED editor answers your questions

We recently asked you to provide questions about lexicography and language for a Senior Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – and you certainly had a lot to ask. We’ve picked some of the best questions, and… here are the answers! in a bit of a dilemma. why was 'dilemma' spelled 'dilemna'? is the […]

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Reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter A

Reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter A

In the first of an occasional series, guest blogger Nikki talks us through her ongoing project to read every word in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. A bookmark holds my place in the largest book I have ever attempted to read – a behemoth weighing in at 4.6 pounds. It looks odd with the braid hanging […]

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Otter cafe

LOYO, Obamacar, and otter café: new words in OxfordDictionaries.com

The most recent update to OxfordDictionaries.com sees a host of new words added from the worlds of politics, popular culture, and social media. You can see ten highlights from the update below. In each case, clicking on the word will take you through to the word’s new dictionary entry, where you can see full definitions, example sentences, and […]

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California and the Oxford English Dictionary

California and the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has worked with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library to look at words in the Oxford English Dictionary that have come from California. From Valleyspeak to the language of the movies, the timeline highlights more than 150 terms which are first found in the Golden […]

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Ice Cube

9 singers and groups you may not expect to find in the OED

Over two million quotations are included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and, with approximately 33,300 quotations, Shakespeare is the author you’re most likely to encounter when looking up a word. While the Bard’s inclusion doesn’t seem very surprising, the dictionary also cites a number of people whose inclusion is a bit more unexpected. For example, […]

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