Category: English in use

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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How many words are there in the English language?

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13 synonyms for 'unlucky'

13 ways to say ‘unlucky’

Friday 13th has long been considered an unlucky day in the West, at least by some people; this dates back to the Middle Ages. Though it’s often treated whimsically, a word for a phobia of the day has been suggested: paraskevidekatriaphobia, by analogy with the existing word for a phobia of the number 13, triskaidekaphobia. […]

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political catchphrases and nicknames

What’s in a nickname? Lyin’ Ted, L’il Marco, and the art of the political catchphrase

The US Presidential race is taking yet another twist in its long road to the White House this week, as voters in Indiana head to the polls for their primary contest. The race to become a party’s nominee is usually all but settled by this time of year, but in 2016, at least on the […]

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Is a zebra a horse?

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