Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Category: Interactive features

Explore the language of Irish English, from ‘gobdaw’ to ‘hooley’

Ireland

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, which seems a perfect excuse to not only go out for a few beers and perhaps a couple of glasses of usquebaugh, but also to take a closer look at some Irish English words. However you choose to celebrate tomorrow, whether you’re planning to dance your socks off at a […]

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Book quiz: do you know these classic first lines?

Book quiz: do you know these classic first lines?

Opening lines are an important part of any piece of literature. A writer has to grab the attention of the reader with that first line or run the risk of them putting the book down. While that might sound a little alarmist, there is no doubt that a punchy opening line lingers in the memory […]

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Interactive quiz: how well do you know the language of film?

Film quiz

Hollywood doesn’t pay much attention to lexicographers (Billy Wilder’s 1941 comedy Ball of Fire is the notable exception), but lexicographers are duty-bound to make a careful study of the world of film. The Oxford English Dictionary regularly studies screenplays as part of its research programme, and cites nearly 200 examples from film scripts. During the […]

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Delve into Dickens with our interactive text analyser

Delve into Dickens

It’s easy to get lost in a good book. If you’re not careful, you can lose hours, or even days immersed in a fictional land; forgetting to eat, postponing sleep while you read just one more chapter… But have you ever wanted to physically climb into a book so that you can get your nose […]

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Interactive quiz: Dickens or what the dickens?

Dickens quiz

2012 sees the bicentenary of one of the great and prolific authors of the English literary canon – Charles Dickens. His contribution to literature speaks for itself, but his contribution to the English language is also significant. In particular, the names of some of his characters have entered the language as words in their own […]

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What were the most looked-up words in 2011?

Interactive search monitor

In our occasional search monitor series, we take a look at your most searched-for words of the past month. But what were your top look-ups for the past year? Below is a word cloud containing the top 300 most looked-up words in our free online dictionary. Hover over the words to find out more or […]

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Interactive fireworks image: Oooh! Ahhhh!

Fireworks

The names of fireworks conjure up an image of great spectacle  –  you can imagine fizgigs, jumping jacks, and rockets filling the night sky and then disappearing almost as quickly as they arrived. Many of the names are familiar, but some may be less so. How about Bengal lights and maroons? Who is the Catherine […]

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Witches, warlocks, and werewolves: an interactive Halloween timeline

Interactive Halloween timeline

Halloween conjures up lots of lovely childhood memories for me. We didn’t go trick or treating, we went guising, but the basic premise was the same – we would dress up and visit neighbouring houses, but in order to be rewarded with sweets or small amounts of money, we had to sing for our supper […]

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