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

Category: English in use

My Fair Lady: simple phonetics and pygmalion words

My Fair Lady: simple phonetics and pygmalion words

My Fair Lady, a musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s 1912 play Pygmalion, was first performed on Broadway in 1956, and has been in performance somewhere in the world almost ever since. Telling the tale of how London phonetics professor Henry Higgins gives cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle speech lessons in order to pass her […]

What do you call a librarian on Tumblr?

What do you call a librarian on Tumblr?

There is nothing, it seems, that the Internet loves so much as . . . well, cats falling off draining boards, but second to that, it’s abbreviations. As technology and social media expand, and communities continue to grow across the Internet, so language and language use develop and adapt to cater to new situations. From […]

Mumbo-jumbo and plocking: Vita Sackville-West in the OED

shutterstock_63941572

On 9 March 2013, Vita Sackville-West would have been 121 years old. By birth she was a Victorian, but she spent her life railing against the stifling conventions of her parents’ generation. She and her husband Harold Nicolson enjoyed a famously open marriage; one of Vita Sackville-West’s many lovers was the novelist Virginia Woolf, who […]

Read more »
scones

How do you pronounce scone?

If you’re ever looking to liven up a tea party with some fully-fledged warfare, then can I suggest that you try something subtler than putting salt in the sugar bowl or pushing someone down the stairs? Simply point to the curranty baked goods on the Cath Kidston three-tiered cake stand, and ask: “Scone or scone?” […]

Read more »

Argh, muggins, and pleasure boat: diarists in the OED

Argh, muggins, and pleasure boat: diarists in the OED

Diaries hold a special place in literature. They can provide a uniquely personal snapshot of the world at a particular time. When I was younger, it seemed like every year brought forth a particular New Year’s resolution – this would be the year I would begin my diary and, more importantly, keep it going. Yet, […]

A-tremble and dimplement: Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the OED

A-tremble and dimplement: Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the OED

Did you know that Elizabeth Barrett Browning is the fifth most quoted woman in the OED’s illustrative quotations? I was tipped off to this rather surprising fact a few days ago, and thought I’d take a look at where she pops up. Amazingly, she is currently quoted no fewer than 1,530 times, starting, alphabetically, with […]

Read more »

Baby Names Generator: from Amelia to Zebedee

Boy - literature

Spring is fast approaching, and with this comes new life (in the animal and plant world anyway), so what better season than spring to launch our fantastic new Baby Name Generator! Our generator has been specially designed to help you choose the perfect name for your future baby, boy or girl, hypothetical or about to […]

Read more »

Grinches, green eggs, and drawings of fantastic beasts: the language of Dr Seuss

An imaginary meeting between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Murray

This week it’s the birthday of Dr Seuss, the pen-name of Theodor Seuss Geisel. An American writer of hugely successful books for children, he was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) introduced his iconic visual and verbal style, which was further extended in the ‘Beginner Book’ series, […]

Read more »

Tweets