Category: English in use

Just Plutonic? Roman gods and their relationship to the days of the week

Just Plutonic? Roman gods and their relationship to the days of the week

When I was a kid. . . Yeah, you know where I’m going with this one. Pluto was a planet. Discovered in 1930, Pluto enjoyed renown as the 9th planet in our solar system for 76 years, until in 2006 the International Astronomical Union declared it to be a dwarf planet. Poor Pluto: the last […]

Only a Northern Song

Strawberry Fields Forever: the legacy of The Beatles

As a die-hard Beatles fan, I was delighted to learn that the Beatles’ lyrics are very popular with teachers of English as a foreign language. Apparently, the songs are notable for containing high percentages of the commonest English words, and are therefore very useful for learners. But in writing this article, I’m more interested in what […]

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Dorothy Parker, wordsmith

Dorothy Parker, wordsmith

The wisecracking poet Dorothy Rothschild Parker was the prototypical New Yorker who nonetheless was born in New Jersey, on August 22, 1893. That said, her birthplace was a matter of circumstance—her family was escaping the city heat on the Jersey Shore—and she grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She lived most of […]

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buffy vampire

“Add it up, it all spells ‘duh’”: the language of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer

Someone called James Marsters turns fifty this week. If you’ve never heard of him, that’s not surprising. Outside the fandom of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer he is, in his own words, ‘just another actor’. But if you’re one of the fans, then the idea that Spike is turning fifty might be giving you […]

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From rockability to mathcore: exploring the cultural and linguistic blending of popular music genres

From rockabilly to mathcore: exploring the cultural and linguistic blending of popular music genres

The language of music has never been more nimble. With fusion genres like nu metal, trip hop, acid jazz, and synthpop having emerged over the last thirty years or so, it’s no surprise that our music vocabulary has expanded. And since we here at the OxfordWords blog love our portmanteaus, it only seems right to […]

Using food for thought: Intellectual hunger, thirst, and omnivorous behaviors

Using food for thought: Intellectual hunger, thirst, and omnivorous behaviors

We search for things to read to satiate our intellectual hunger or quench our thirst for knowledge. A favorite of mine is the phrase that someone is ‘intellectually omnivorous’, meaning that their intellectual diet consists of all (omni-) types of brain foods. Junkier ideas which are sweet and appealing are called brain candy. Brain candy […]

crayons

Red and yellow and pink and green…

Many of us learn the colours of the rainbow from an early age, but have you ever wondered where the names for the different shades we see around us come from? The origins of many of the words for the colours of the visible spectrum go back far in time, and are ultimately unknown. But […]

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Meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?

Meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?

In the last fortnight, the Oxford English Dictionary saw a massive spike in searches for the verb ‘medal’.  Searches for ‘medal’ on our free Oxford Dictionaries Online site also increased dramatically at the end of July and have remained high for two weeks. While we at Oxford Dictionaries couldn’t possibly comment on the reason for […]

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