Category: English in use


Wordster, wordmonger, and other words about words

Trying to write the introduction to this post without overusing the word word is going to be difficult. It may become something of a tongue-twister. But, essentially, we’ve looked at words beginning with word in the Oxford English Dictionary, knowing that wordsmiths like you will want more word words to add to your vocabulary… got […]

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All you never knew you wanted to know about the language of hawking

Among the many pleasures of reading Helen Macdonald’s moving memoir H is for Hawk is an inauguration into the arcane terminology of hawking. Mastery of this complex lexicon was a badge of social status in the Middle Ages. According to medieval legend, the terms for hawking and hunting were introduced by Sir Tristram, one of […]

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Taylor Swift

She can read you like a magazine: the lyrics of Taylor Swift

You’d think writing about Taylor Swift’s use of words would be easy. Everyone knows her style, right? It’s so distinct that she has tried to trademark it. But let me tell you, there’s something ethereal about Taylor’s lyricism – it’s surprisingly hard to settle on any individual words that are markedly hers. ‘It’s because she’s […]

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Video: how well do Oxford Dictionaries staff know football?

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kissing otters

6 words for kissing for International Kissing Day

To celebrate International Kissing Day, we’re taking a look in the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to explore synonyms for the verb kiss across time. 1. Buss (a1566) The noun buss, meaning ‘a kiss, especially a loud or vigorous one’, is first found in the mid-16th century, according to current OED research. It […]

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Going sour: sweet words in slang

Slang—mocking, sneering, casting a jaundiced eye on the world’s proprieties—is by its nature sour. It finds approval hard, congratulation challenging, and affection almost impossible. Yet even if slang’s oldest meaning of “sugar” is money, and the second oldest a euphemism for the most common term for defecation, slang, for all its skepticism, cannot resist the […]

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“As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.” - Mark Twain

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Interior of a strip club

Seeing ‘Magic Mike XXL’? 6 words from the world of stripping

With Magic Mike XXL coming out this week, we thought it might be enlightening to take a look at a few terms from the wide world of erotic dance and stripping. 1. pole dance People have been performing athletic and acrobatic feats on, around, and with poles for centuries. Hence, it’s not a surprise to find citations in […]

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