Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

500 words

500 words: stories from a wider world

The BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition, run by the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, asks children aged 5-13 to compose an original work of fiction in no more than 500 words. For the past four years, Oxford Dictionaries for Children has collected and analysed all of the words used by young writers in the competition. […]

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dance scene

37 dances from the OED

Because the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) captures the breadth and variety of the English language, something that one can trace through its entries are cultural fads and crazes. With that in mind, we have picked out a sampling of some of the dances mentioned in the OED, some new, some old, some still popular today, […]

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Australia WWI

Rediscovering words from the Great War

In my recent book, Furphies and Whizz-bangs: Anzac Slang from the Great War, I had the opportunity to revisit some of the classic collections of war slang, including the Australian publication Digger Dialects, written in 1919 by W.H. Downing, and the British Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914–1918, compiled by John Brophy and […]

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17 weird ways to say weird

Tired of the word weird? At Oxford Dictionaries, we decided to that it was time to come up with some alternatives. Next time you want to observe how weird something is, why don’t you try ostrobogulous out for size? Or how about the over-the-top mondo bizarre? 1. Far-out Unconventional or avant-garde. This use began as […]

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Did you know that James Murray… was a prolific preacher of sermons?

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: which Australian words are in Oxford Dictionaries?

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The white stuff: notes on the OED update

It’s that time again, when we bring you the very latest in additions to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and, as usual, we have lexicographical facts and figures coming out of our ears. This quarterly OED update contains around 500 new words, phrases, and senses, spanning a period of nearly 1,100 years in the history […]

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stormy sea

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick-tionaries

Herman Melville’s whaling adventure Moby-Dick (1851) begins far away from the ocean. The first character we meet is an Usher to a grammar school (a junior school) who supplies an etymology of the word whale. The Usher’s etymology is the first indication to readers that there will be two parallel quests in this whale of a […]

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