Category: English in use

Schrödinger’s cat: What can cats tell us about physics, philosophy, and language?

What can cats tell us about physics, philosophy, and language?

Take a cat, a Geiger counter, a radioactive sample that has a fifty-fifty chance of decaying in an hour, some cyanide in a glass phial, and a metal box. Lock the cat into the box together with the other equipment rigged up so that if an atom of the radioactive substance decays it triggers the […]

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Holy lexicon, Batman! Comic book language from Agitron to Zod.

Holy lexicon, Batman! Comic book language from Agitron to Zod

The most hotly-anticipated film of the summer, Suicide Squad, shows that even supevillains can make a contribution to society. But what contribution have superheroes, supervillains, and comic books in general made to the English language? Here’s an A-Z of words and terms from comic book culture. Some have yet to gain the traction to make […]

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David Brent The Office

The awkward language of David Brent and The Office

‘David, some words would be useful here’: a sentence of exasperation from Neil Godwin, David Brent’s nemesis in the mockumentary The Office, as he witnesses Brent’s bungling management metaphors and haplessly incomprehensible hand-gestures. As we know, David Brent actually has a lot of words, and most of them lead to podiacide, otherwise known as shooting […]

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words ending in -cracy

60 words ending with –cracy

When you’re tracing the etymology of a word, you’ll find that many roads lead to Greek. A large amount of English word do have their origins in the Hellenic language, although they might’ve entered the English via other routes. We have already looked at words ending with Greek –phobia, so this time we turn our […]

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The Republican and Democratic National Conventions come with some rather unique vocabulary.

Conventional wisdom – America gears up for two very political parties

As the mercury climbs ever higher across the US, the political temperature will be getting especially hot in two of its cities this summer. Cleveland, in Ohio, and Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, are about to host, respectively, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions – when each party will officially nominate their chosen candidate to run for […]

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Pwn, RPG, and griefer: the language of gaming

The language of gaming

During the days where the arcades were thriving businesses, there were some very obvious patterns to how gaming words appeared. Most words would either define a piece of hardware, or describe the genre of the game. Once gaming branched into the online world, a whole new way of playing video games emerged. With this came […]

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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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