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

Category: English in use

Facekini

Word in the news: facekini

The latest fashion trend to hit beaches has been raising eyebrows – but you wouldn’t know it, since the eyebrows (along with the rest of the face) can’t be seen behind the facekini. First reaching popularity in 2012 in China, this balaclava-like stretchy nylon mask is intended to protect the face from tanning and UV-rays […]

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Poe and Lovecraft

The inventive words and worlds of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft

To celebrate this week’s birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, one of Gothic horror’s most acclaimed authors, here is a brief look into the contributions H.P. Lovecraft and fellow Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe have made to the English language. Poe’s words Though Edgar Allan Poe, the progenitor of the modern day horror genre (across all mediums), […]

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money coins

How did bread, cheese, and dough come to mean money?

Back in the day, the hip-hop duo OutKast released a song called “Aquemini” that goes: Street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts, you know, how to work the bread, cheese, and dough from scratch This is a little André wordplay, talking about hustlers out to earn their pay. When I heard this and clocked the […]

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geekfest

Finding geeky words at Nine Worlds

Catherine Sangster is head of pronunciation for Oxford Dictionaries. This week she went to Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014 to talk about conlangs, host a dictionary corner, and generally get her geek on. Nine Worlds is a London-based event which embraces a broad spectrum of geekery and makes a particular effort to bring groups which are […]

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bangarang

Word in the news: bangarang

You may have heard the word bangarang in the tribute paid to Robin Williams by US President Barack Obama, after the sad news of Williams’ death yesterday, and wondered what it means. Barack Obama said that “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, […]

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Lazy bear

Quisby, lollop, and other names for a lazy person

Today, to celebrate Lazy Day, we wanted to share some of the many synonyms for ‘lazy’ from our Historical Thesaurus. From the fashionably lazy lounge lizard to the idle slouch, you’ll find plenty of terms to confess your laziness. Maybe you are feeling like a couch potato who favours lounging in front of the TV […]

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football redskins

What is the definition of redskin?

What is the definition of redskin? This week Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder told ESPN, “Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride.” The reclamation of the word — often seen as a derogatory to Native Americans — has become a major […]

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bread idioms

The greatest thing since bread idioms

When it comes to offering both nutritional and linguistic value, no food is more nourishing than good ol’, plain ol’ bread. For centuries, bread has been a symbol of the ultimate sustenance – and bread idioms and proverbs further emphasize its dual status as a provider of life and a measure of how well that […]

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