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

Category: English in use

Baby Names Generator: from Amelia to Zebedee

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Spring is fast approaching, and with this comes new life (in the animal and plant world anyway), so what better season than spring to launch our fantastic new Baby Name Generator! Our generator has been specially designed to help you choose the perfect name for your future baby, boy or girl, hypothetical or about to […]

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Grinches, green eggs, and drawings of fantastic beasts: the language of Dr Seuss

An imaginary meeting between Dr. Seuss and Dr. Murray

This week it’s the birthday of Dr Seuss, the pen-name of Theodor Seuss Geisel. An American writer of hugely successful books for children, he was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1904. And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) introduced his iconic visual and verbal style, which was further extended in the ‘Beginner Book’ series, […]

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Heists and mayhem: the language of crime

Hand in glove stealing blue diamond isolated

There has been a lot on British minds recently, with horsemeat and obesity coming high on the list of preoccupations. But amid the furore over such unpalatable subjects, it was a different headline altogether that caught my eye. ‘Diamond heist at Brussels airport nets gang up to £30m in gems’, was the Guardian’s version, while […]

Horseplay: horses in idioms and proverbs

Horseplay: horses in idioms and proverbs

Horses have been in the news recently and, as with anything topical and a little bit scandalous, would-be comedians have been riffing on horse-related puns and quips to their hearts’ content. The English language is not new to this sort of play with the word ‘horse’. Horseplay, if you will – which is a case […]

Genes and genetics: the language of scientific discovery

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It is sometimes the case that a scientific field experiences such dramatic progress that the rate at which new discoveries are made outpaces the language needed to describe them. How would it be if there were no words to describe the results of your latest experiment or the structures you see using your new microscope? […]

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Unpresidential presidential quotations in the OED

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The Oxford English Dictionary is founded upon millions of quotations, which trace the history of each word starting with its earliest recorded use. America’s presidents are well represented among the authors of those quotations; after all, they are influential speakers and writers whose words are painstakingly recorded and preserved. Presidential quotations often turn up in […]

5 words you didn’t know were acronyms

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Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say a whole word. That’s why the good British public have taken abbreviations to their hearts so willingly. Many people talk about ‘quotes’ instead of ‘quotations’, ‘info’ rather than ‘information’, ‘R-Patz’ in place of ‘Robert Pattinson’. . . yes? Anyone? And then there is the […]

The language of courtship

The language of courtship

Both my parents have been gone for many years now, but I sometimes have to jolt myself into remembering just how long it has been. Today is one of those times because it’s soon after the turn of the new year that I used to be making anniversary plans with my siblings. As what would […]

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