Category: English in use

Bruce Jenner

Bruce Jenner and the use of pronouns

Until recently, the name ‘Bruce Jenner’ evoked various images in people – a movie-star handsome Olympic athlete, or a reality show participant with the in-laws. No one, however, is likely to have thought, ‘I wonder if Bruce Jenner feels like a woman inside?’ Over the past year or so, Jenner has been increasingly open about […]

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“A poem should not mean / But be.” - Archibald MacLeish

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david letterman late show

Top 10 teen movies … that are quoted in the OED

In saying goodbye to David Letterman this evening, we also say goodbye to one of his most-loved segments: the Top Ten list. In honor of Letterman, we have pulled together our own Top Ten. You already knew that the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) covers a wide swath of the English language, but you probably didn’t […]

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golden compass

The language of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Northern Lights (published in the US as The Golden Compass), the first novel in Philip Pullman’s hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy. In the preface, the author tells us that the story is set in a universe ‘like ours, but different in many ways’. One […]

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flower bouquet

Say it with flowers: floral expressions and phrases

With the opening of the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, visitors from all over the world will once again flock to London in their thousands to keep up with the latest gardening trends and enjoy the vibrant colours of the flowers on display. But besides their obvious visual attraction, flowers can also be of particular […]

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“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are those that other people have lent me.” - Anatole France

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fishing trawler

What is the difference between ‘trolling’ and ‘trawling’?

Are you ‘trawling through’ or ‘trolling through’ that online archive? Did you have a successful ‘trawl’ or ‘troll’ of that dictionary? It’s easy to understand why these words are often confused: not only do they sound similar (trOHl and trAWl), but both are loose synonyms for search. Trawl typically means to ‘sift through as part […]

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Yogi Berra

‘Yogi-isms’: the wisdom and wit of Yogi Berra

What is it that we love so much about the oft-quoted sayings of Yogi Berra? Of all the wisdom that has been handed down from America’s pastime over the past century, none of it

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