Category: English in use

What does ‘blatant’ mean?

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Empathy or sympathy?

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Any idea where the Seven Dwarfs' names come from?

The names of the Seven Dwarfs

The Brothers Grimm tale Snow White is, of course, extremely well known – as are the seven dwarfs that take her in when she escapes her evil stepmother. (Dwarves or dwarfs? Well, the plural of dwarf can actually be either.) You can probably name them all, or at least get to six and spend the […]

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All the candidates in the Republican field before a September 2015 debate

The undercard debate: emerging jargon in the 2016 Republican primaries

The vocabulary of American presidential politics is colorful and extensive, full of locutions like veepstakes, Super Tuesday, and purple state. The 2016 election cycle is already introducing new terms to the lexicon, to describe a novel phenomenon that has emerged this year—the doubleheader debate. With more than a dozen major Republican candidates vying to be […]

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Barack Obama on television reacting to the Paris attacks.

Word in the news: mastermind

In a speech made after the November terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama criticized the media’s use of the word mastermind to describe Abdelhamid Abaaoud. “He’s not a mastermind,” he stated. “He found a few other vicious people, got hands on some fairly conventional weapons, and sadly, it turns out that if you’re willing to […]

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Frank Sinatra in the studio

The language of Frank Sinatra

One of the most significant musical artists of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra was a major cultural figure from the early 1940s up to his death more than half a century later in 1998. While Sinatra is not necessarily remembered for his language – most of the songs he’s remembered for were written by others […]

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Hands shaping a piece of pottery on a wheel.

The Great Pottery Throw Down and language

The newest knockout competition on British television is The Great Pottery Throw Down (GPTD), in which an initial ten potters produce a variety of ceramic work each week, the most successful being declared Top Potter, and the least successful being ‘asked to leave’. The last four then compete in a final for the overall title. […]

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"Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." - The Bible (1611)

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