Category: English in use

The word burkini has entered widespread use this year.

Taking a dip into the language of swimming

The British summer may be shaping up to be something of a damp squib so far, but that hasn’t stopped a new swimwear term making it into the dictionary in 2016. Thanks to its push by leading British retailers Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser, the word burkini has entered widespread use this year, […]

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The language of Lewis Carroll was highly innovative, and his books are full of neologisms and nonce words.

Alice Day and the language of Lewis Carroll

Alice Day is an annual celebration held on 4 July to mark the anniversary of the ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematics tutor at Christ Church, Oxford, took Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating picnic up the river Thames. During the trip he amused the sisters by telling the […]

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What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus!

Language jokes for International Jokes Day

We love language and we love jokes, so it stands to reason that we love language jokes. We took to Twitter to try out some of our favourites, and asked the good people of the public to tweet us their own too. Below are our jokes, and a selection of the others that we liked […]

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The language of skateboarding

The language of skateboarding

Skateboarding began in California in the 1940s, invented by surfers looking for excitement when the waves were too flat to surf; the earliest skateboards were devised by adding roller skate wheels to wooden boxes. Over the following decades the boards became more sophisticated, as did the variety of manoeuvres that skaters attempted to carry out. […]

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Refugee vs migrant: how do we talk about people who leave their home country?

Expat, migrant, refugee: how do we talk about people who leave their home country?

Last month, refugee was chosen as the Oxford Children’s Word of the Year 2016. The decision was made after analysing more than 123,436 entries to the 2016 BBC Radio 2 500 WORDS competition. The word also made the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year shortlist last year, but was ultimately beaten by the ‘Face with Tears […]

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Words beginning with wl-

11 words beginning with wl-

You might have thought that there aren’t any words in English that begin with the letters wl-. And, if you were thinking of those in common use today, you would be right. However, as a historical dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) also contains lots of words which are now obsolete – including a surprising […]

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How many words begin with ‘x’?

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The language of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Don’t Panic: the language of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally written as a radio script, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 in 6 episodes described as fits – a term used for a section of a poem that goes back to Old English. The Hitchhiker’s Guide appeared in book form in 1979; since then it has […]

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