Category: English in use

ice_skating

10 words you need to know for figure skating

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are finally here, and we are celebrating this season of sport in the best way we know how: with words. For the duration of the Games, we’ll be featuring terminology from many of this year’s competed sports. Today’s wordlist primer focuses on: Figure Skating Figure skating has been featured at […]

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couple man woman ballroom dancers tangoing  silhouette

Welcome to Dan’s Class: the language of Strictly Come Dancing

First of all, if you didn’t get the witty wordplay of my title, don’t bother to read on. Dan’s class; dance class? Never mind, this isn’t Strictly Pun Dancing after all. I’m sorry*, I’ll stop now. If, like me, you spend your Saturday evenings with a bottle of red, agonizing over Sophie’s samba or Fiona’s […]

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I’ll teach you how to “stunt”

bling dollar

In 2003, 50 Cent and his fellow G-Unit rappers released a song called “Stunt 101”, in which they claim to “teach you how to stunt”. I’ve been listening to this song for years without a second thought, but now it occurs to me that this verb stunt is completely baffling–what on earth does it mean!? […]

catching fire

8 words you need to know to survive The Hunger Games

Happy Hunger Games! With the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at cinemas, what better time to explore some of the core vocabulary from this epic series. Need some background? For the full picture on the language of The Hunger Games, read our blog post. Whether your arena is a jungle, a desert, or […]

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Doctor Who

Doctor Who, in an Exciting Adventure with the Lexicographers (part 2)

Following on from part 1 of Doctor Who, in an Exciting Adventure with the Lexicographers, Second Lexicographer takes the reins and looks into the language of Doctor Who throughout the years.   SECOND LEXICOGRAPHER: Hm. Feels different this time… Nope, still not ginger. Something missing though… Ahah! No Adam’s apple! So, while I’m waiting for […]

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Doctor Who, in an Exciting Adventure with the Lexicographers (part 1)

Doctor Who

If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cry of strange birds and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you? FIRST LEXICOGRAPHER: With this tantalizing question, William Hartnell opened the doors of the Tardis to reveal to its new and rather sceptical crew their first destination in an adventure which […]

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Hobbiton

Why did Tolkien use archaic language?

All words have life cycles. They are born, sometimes by a specific individual at a recorded moment, as was the case with grotty. The current first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is from the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, in which George Harrison utters the word in response to some shirts. ‘I […]

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A Durrellian Dictionary

By Yani papadimos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

7 November marks the anniversary of Lawrence Durrell’s death. He was an author for readers of dictionaries par excellence. And while that may seem peculiar praise, it also shapes one way of reading the man. Dictionaries have an indexical nature, and the most labour intensive word for a reader is “See…” Durrell tells us he […]

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