Category: English in use

Dad's Army

10 words you need to know before watching Dad’s Army

A while ago I tried to explain to my American colleague why the words “Don’t tell him, Pike” would bring a wry smile to any Brit’s face. I don’t think I succeeded brilliantly. If you’re not familiar, the clip below will let you know what I’m talking about – sorry for spoiling the punchline – […]

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Video: what is Shrove Tuesday?

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Donald Trump speaks at the First in the Nation Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH, on April 18, 2015

Political profanity and crude creativity on the US Election campaign trail

As the snow starts to melt over here on the East Coast of the US following ‘Snowzilla’, thoughts are turning (and in the case of journalists, turned long ago) to the start of the primary season, when votes are cast to choose each party’s presidential nominee. It’s a complicated and sometimes very long process, beginning […]

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Virginia Woolf quotations

5 beautiful Virginia Woolf quotations

25 January 1882 was the day on which Virginia Woolf was born. To celebrate the birthday of the renowned novelist, essayist, and feminist icon, we’ve taken a look in Oxford Essential Quotations to pick out some of her most memorable moments. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” […]

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pies and cakes in English idioms

Pies and cakes in English idioms

It is assumed that the word pie came into English via Old French, from Latin pica ‘magpie’, which in turn is related to picus ‘green woodpecker’. Here, the allusion is perhaps to the various combinations of ingredients of a pie being comparable to the objects randomly collected by a magpie. Its sweet equivalent, the cake, on the other […]

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National Hugging Day

14 ways to hug

Did you know that 21 January was National Hugging Day in the United States? It was created in 1986 and has spread to many other countries in the world – so we encourage you, if others don’t mind, to hug at least one person today. But what if you get tired of the word hug […]

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new chemical elements names

How do new elements get named?

It is highly unusual for words to become the subject of avid discussion—and even of consideration by lexicographers—before they have even been coined! This is the curious situation at present in the world of science, where the announcement of four new chemical elements has created something of a stir. They can now take a permanent […]

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football team names

The origins of British football team names

Where do British football (or soccer) clubs get their names? The answer may seem straightforward enough, since most clubs are named after the city in which they play: Manchester City, Southampton, Liverpool. But there are exceptions, such as Arsenal, named after the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, whose workers formed the club in 1886. The Royal […]

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