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

Category: English in use

Lazy bear

Quisby, lollop, and other names for a lazy person

Today, to celebrate Lazy Day, we wanted to share some of the many synonyms for ‘lazy’ from our Historical Thesaurus. From the fashionably lazy lounge lizard to the idle slouch, you’ll find plenty of terms to confess your laziness. Maybe you are feeling like a couch potato who favours lounging in front of the TV […]

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football redskins

What is the definition of redskin?

What is the definition of redskin? This week Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder told ESPN, “Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride.” The reclamation of the word — often seen as a derogatory to Native Americans — has become a major […]

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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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