Category: English in use

Beyond ‘historical fiction’, very little shared vocabulary exists to describe even the most common of recurring types of Proper Fiction.

A rallying cry for more subgenres, please

Spend twenty minutes on Pandora and you’ll be told that you prefer folk-influenced indie rock with strong harmonies. Toss a few star ratings into your Netflix account, and they’ll offer you a near-endless supply of dark murder mysteries with a strong female lead. Somehow, though, the technology gods have not seen fit to bestow on […]

Read more »
While it is commonly used in psychology to describe a type of mental illness, mania can also mean ‘an obsessive enthusiasm for a particular thing’ in a broader, everyday sense.

36 words ending in –mania

Like the combining forms –phobia and –cracy, which we have discussed previously, –mania forms part of numerous English words. While it is commonly used in psychology to describe a type of mental illness, mania can also mean ‘an obsessive enthusiasm for a particular thing’ in a broader, everyday sense. But have a look at our […]

Read more »
Schrödinger’s cat: What can cats tell us about physics, philosophy, and language?

What can cats tell us about physics, philosophy, and language?

Take a cat, a Geiger counter, a radioactive sample that has a fifty-fifty chance of decaying in an hour, some cyanide in a glass phial, and a metal box. Lock the cat into the box together with the other equipment rigged up so that if an atom of the radioactive substance decays it triggers the […]

Read more »
Holy lexicon, Batman! Comic book language from Agitron to Zod.

Holy lexicon, Batman! Comic book language from Agitron to Zod

The most hotly-anticipated film of the summer, Suicide Squad, shows that even supevillains can make a contribution to society. But what contribution have superheroes, supervillains, and comic books in general made to the English language? Here’s an A-Z of words and terms from comic book culture. Some have yet to gain the traction to make […]

Read more »
David Brent The Office

The awkward language of David Brent and The Office

‘David, some words would be useful here’: a sentence of exasperation from Neil Godwin, David Brent’s nemesis in the mockumentary The Office, as he witnesses Brent’s bungling management metaphors and haplessly incomprehensible hand-gestures. As we know, David Brent actually has a lot of words, and most of them lead to podiacide, otherwise known as shooting […]

Read more »
words ending in -cracy

60 words ending with –cracy

When you’re tracing the etymology of a word, you’ll find that many roads lead to Greek. A large amount of English word do have their origins in the Hellenic language, although they might’ve entered the English via other routes. We have already looked at words ending with Greek –phobia, so this time we turn our […]

Read more »
The Republican and Democratic National Conventions come with some rather unique vocabulary.

Conventional wisdom – America gears up for two very political parties

As the mercury climbs ever higher across the US, the political temperature will be getting especially hot in two of its cities this summer. Cleveland, in Ohio, and Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, are about to host, respectively, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions – when each party will officially nominate their chosen candidate to run for […]

Read more »
Pwn, RPG, and griefer: the language of gaming

The language of gaming

During the days where the arcades were thriving businesses, there were some very obvious patterns to how gaming words appeared. Most words would either define a piece of hardware, or describe the genre of the game. Once gaming branched into the online world, a whole new way of playing video games emerged. With this came […]

Read more »

Tweets