Do you know when laugh entered the English language? What about cricket or fair-weather friend? Take the OED Timeline Challenge and find out if you are a lexical brainiac (1975). To play, simply drag the word to the date at which you think it entered the English language. Please note that the dates given for […]
The English language is filled with a wild assortment of romantic endearments, ranging from the old and obvious, such as sweetheart, to the entirely unexpected, such as flitter-mouse, an archaic term for a bat. In fact, bats are one of several animals that make an appearance, along with ducks, cats, doves, and turtles (and turtle-doves). […]
Today National Wear Red Day is celebrated in the US to raise awareness of heart disease. We’re joining in to show our support – but not by actually donning some red clothes. Instead we’re exploring translations of red in other languages: from Afrikaans to Icelandic, click through our interactive map to trace how to say red around the world.
So who exactly do we mean by ‘Santa’ or ‘St. Nicholas’? It turns out that there are many names for Santa around the world, along with a whole group of other holiday gift-givers. Given his seeming ubiquity during the holiday season, from cameos in Black Friday advertisements to appearances in pop songs, it can feel […]
This animation uses data from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to show how English has developed by borrowing or adapting words from different languages and regions of the world, from 1150 to the present day. These patterns of word-borrowing reflect the changing demographics of the English-speaking world; cultural and economic influences on Britain; the spread of […]
A lolcat is defined as ‘(on the Internet) a photograph of a cat accompanied by a humorous caption written typically in a misspelled and grammatically incorrect version of English’. The lol stands for ‘laughing out loud’ or ‘laugh out loud’. You may well have seen them about online, eating cheeseburgers and offering advice to their […]
Long before Europeans arrived in the Americas, tobacco was part of the culture of many Native American tribes. These tribes had many different uses for the plant, ranging from recreational and ceremonial use to the plant’s use in various medical capacities, in particular as a painkiller. The American origins of the plant can still be […]