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

Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

8 words which share a birthday with the OED

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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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bitcoin

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013: runners-up

Earlier today, we announced that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013 is ‘selfie’. You can learn more about the rise of ‘selfie’ with our infographic. But what about the runners-up? Below we take a closer look at the words on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 shortlist, from ‘bedroom tax’ […]

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selfie blacknwhite

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…

It’s that time of the year again. With a fanfare and a drum roll, it’s time to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. The votes have been counted and verified and I can exclusively reveal that the winner is…. selfie A picture can paint a thousand words The decision was unanimous this year, […]

Interview with John Simpson, former Chief Editor of the OED

OED JS cake

John Simpson recently retired as chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Before he left, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his time at the helm of our historical dictionary. Watch the videos below to learn how life at the OED has changed since John Simpson joined in 1976, […]

A slice of apple’s linguistic history

apple

October is National Apple Month. To celebrate, we’ve got an extract from The Diner’s Dictionary looking at the linguistic life of this humble fruit. The apple was probably the earliest of all fruits to be cultivated by human beings. Its wild ancestor was a sharp, mouth-puckering little thing, like today’s crab apple, and this abel-, […]

The language of Prohibition-era gangsters: knowing your goons from your gumshoes

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Although this blog has already covered a number of the interesting words and phrases associated with the speakeasies of 1920’s and early 1930’s America, the period still has a number of gems. As today marks the anniversary of the conviction of notorious Chicago-based gangster Al ‘Scarface’ Capone, what better reason to revisit some of the […]

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