Category: English in use

shipping forecast

‘Rain later. Good, occasionally poor’: what does the shipping forecast mean?

Listeners to BBC Radio 4 have a strange affection for its shipping forecast. Although it is basically just a weather forecast, the hypnotic sounds of its intoning, occurring at the same extremely precise four times every day, recalls the chanting of the monastic hours. Its lyrical qualities have been the inspiration of poets such as […]

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The Watergate scandal in 1972 gave us one of the most widely-used political terms: the -gate combining form.

12 overused political terms

With the 2016 Presidential primaries kicking into high gear, the US should prepare itself for a deluge of slangy political terms. From older, tired terms to new, shinier ones, here are several words and phrases that will undoubtedly grate on the ears of those following the scramble towards party nominations. 1. flip flopper Although US […]

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Dad's Army

10 words you need to know before watching Dad’s Army

A while ago I tried to explain to my American colleague why the words “Don’t tell him, Pike” would bring a wry smile to any Brit’s face. I don’t think I succeeded brilliantly. If you’re not familiar, the clip below will let you know what I’m talking about – sorry for spoiling the punchline – […]

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Bob Marley lyrics discuss many aspects of Jamaician political life and the Rastafari beliefs.

Understand Bob Marley lyrics with these 14 words

Despite being one of the most popular musical artists of the 20th century, the actual lyrical content of Bob Marley’s output may be surprisingly obscure to many of his listeners. The average music listener is probably familiar with classic Marley tracks like “Jamming”, “One Love”, and “No Woman, No Cry”, although they may not be […]

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Child reading a book in a garden

Enid Blyton in the OED

Enid Blyton (1897 – 1968) was an English writer of children’s books published from 1922 until her death in 1968. Among her literary creations are Noddy, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, The Faraway Tree, school stories set at St Clare’s and Mallory Towers, and the adventure series featuring the Famous Five and the Secret […]

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Video: what is Shrove Tuesday?

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Donald Trump speaks at the First in the Nation Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH, on April 18, 2015

Political profanity and crude creativity on the US Election campaign trail

As the snow starts to melt over here on the East Coast of the US following ‘Snowzilla’, thoughts are turning (and in the case of journalists, turned long ago) to the start of the primary season, when votes are cast to choose each party’s presidential nominee. It’s a complicated and sometimes very long process, beginning […]

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Virginia Woolf quotations

5 beautiful Virginia Woolf quotations

25 January 1882 was the day on which Virginia Woolf was born. To celebrate the birthday of the renowned novelist, essayist, and feminist icon, we’ve taken a look in Oxford Essential Quotations to pick out some of her most memorable moments. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” […]

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