Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

bycicle

Did you know that James Murray… rode both bicycles and tricycles—but not always very well?

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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50 Shades

The OED’s Fifty Shades of Grey

With the release of the much-anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey on 13 February, we thought that it might be time to take a look in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and see how many shades of grey we could dig up. As it turns out, the OED gives EL […]

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telephone

Did you know that James Murray… was called ‘the grandfather of the telephone’?

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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Video: what is the origin of the word vape?

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crosswords_large

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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man shape_large

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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