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

Category: English in use

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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Extant

Extant’s slippery title confuses even the cast members

With the debut of the Steven Spielberg-produced Halle Berry vehicle Extant, one question has been on a lot of people’s minds: what does the title mean? Following the show’s premiere on July 9, Oxford Dictionaries saw a noticeable increase in the number of searches for the definition of extant. But it wasn’t only the Internet […]

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David Foster Wallace

Infinite vocabulary: the language of David Foster Wallace

Though the late David Foster Wallace was an internationally renowned author of fiction and non-fiction, many of his readers and even some of his most ardent fans may not know about Wallace’s love of language and the work he contributed to the modern American English lexicon. Wallace could take even the most unassuming or simple […]

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What do you call a group of…

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Football

Side-netting battlers and giant-killing tacklers: a football corpus

World Cup fever is everywhere, so let’s take a look at some of the most popular words relating to football. The football corpus These word clouds show terms taken from a football-focused sub-corpus of the Oxford English Corpus, which looks at the most common words used in reporting and other journalism about football. We’ve chosen […]

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Chocolate-covered quotations

Chocolate-covered quotations

It may well be that every day is chocolate day for you – it certainly is for me – but July 7 is more officially Chocolate Day, and gives us an excuse to (a) wolf down several bars for breakfast and (b) have a look at some quotations connected with chocolate. Curiously enough, they mostly […]

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Declaration of Independence

Rhetorical fireworks for the Fourth of July

Ever since 4 July 1777 when citizens of Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of American independence with a fireworks display, the “rockets’ red glare” has lent a military tinge to this national holiday. But the explosive aspect of the patriots’ resistance was the incendiary propaganda that they spread across the thirteen colonies. A rhetorical Declaration […]

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Pele quotation

The first rule of football is… don’t call it soccer

The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language – a phrase commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw sometime in the 1940s, although apparently not to be found in any of his published works. Perhaps another way of looking at it is to say that they are two countries separated […]

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