Category: English in use

Hanukkah menora

How do you spell Chanukah? (Hanukkah? Hanukah? Chanukkah?)

Each winter, as the Jewish festival of lights approaches, English speakers grapple with the question of how to spell its name. The Oxford English Corpus records at least 13 different contemporary spellings, and there are even more in the historical evidence. While the vowels of the word (-a-u-a-) remain constant, there is wide variation in […]

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Seinfeld jerk store

The Jerk Store called…and called and called

Seinfeld famously added a ton of terms to English, such as low talker, high talker, spongeworthy, and unshushables. It also made obscure terms into household words. Shrinkage and yadda yadda yadda existed before Seinfeld, but it’s doubtful you learned them anywhere else. Another successful Seinfeld term has gone under the radar: Jerk Store. The term was coined in “The Comeback,” when George is unselfconsciously stuffing his face with […]

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9 interesting word facts you didn’t know

The English language has a varied and ever changing vocabulary, which makes it an ideal candidate for etymological studies. In this list below, we take a look at the interesting histories of some common English words. For more interesting word facts and origins, browse the ‘Explore’ section on OxfordDictionaries.com, or follow @OxfordWords and @OED on […]

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Psy's music video for his song "Gangnam Style" topped 2.15 quintillion views in early December, forcing YouTube engineers to change the upper limit of the view counter.

Psy, YouTube, and quintillion: “Gangnam Style” and gargantuan numbers

In early December 2014, South Korean musician Psy’s music video for his song “Gangnam Style” exceeded YouTube’s upper view limit, having accumulated over 2,147,483,647 views; more than the view counter had been set to track. The video’s success spurred engineers at YouTube to reset the counter with a new upper limit of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or more […]

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Video: what rhymes with orange?

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pyramids_large

8 phrases that come from Exodus

The film Exodus, directed by Ridley Scott and released this month, is part of a continuing trend of depicting the Bible on screen. Noah was released earlier in 2014, and Christian scripture has long provided material for the silver screen – from The Passion of the Christ and The Ten Commandments to (more tangentially) Monty Python’s […]

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cryptography

Cryptology: the art and science of keeping words secure

As a cryptologist (alternatively cryptographer), what greater important responsibility could I possibly bear than that of keeping words secure? Cryptology is sometimes defined as the art of writing and solving codes. I am going to contest that on a number of fronts, not the least being that cryptology is far more important to all of […]

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basketball

14 basketball terms you should know

All sports can have some difficult lingo. However, the fast-paced nature of basketball can make learning the language of hoops even more of a challenge. We thought it might be a good idea to pull together a quick basketball glossary, defining some of the trickier terms. While not a complete list, the following terms should help […]

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