Category: Word origins

Video: what is the origin of the word loo?

Read more »

Video: what is the origin of the word snob?

Read more »
sixties TV

16 words from the 1960s

As the television show Mad Men draws to a close, we thought it might be fun to reflect on the contributions to language made by the turbulent decade of the 1960s. The legacy of the 1960s on language is not surprising, given the huge shifts in culture, including the Civil Rights movement, the apex of […]

Read more »
darwin

The evolution of the word ‘evolution’

It is curious that, although the modern theory of evolution has its source in Charles Darwin’s great book On the Origin of Species (1859), the word evolution does not appear in the original text at all. In fact, Darwin seems deliberately to have avoided using the word evolution, preferring to refer to the process of […]

Read more »
Orson-Welles-Show-1941

Where does the phrase ‘know where the bodies are buried’ come from?

It’s probably not too much of a surprise that Orson Welles’s greatest contribution to language comes from his greatest contribution to cinema. Following the rise and fall of fictional newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, Welles’s 1941 film Citizen Kane is regarded by many as one of the greatest films ever made, and it also contains […]

Read more »
royal baby

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana: what’s in a royal baby name?

When Prince George of Cambridge was born, the OUP blog took the occasion to examine the history of the names given to baby, mother, and father. With the arrival of the latest addition to the British royal family, we’ve taken a look into the Dictionary of First Names to find out what the names Charlotte Elizabeth Diana mean. Charlotte […]

Read more »
fajitas Tex Mex

Tex-Mex terms in English

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines Tex-Mex as ‘a Texan style of cooking using Mexican ingredients and characterized by the adaptation of Mexican dishes, frequently with more moderate use of hot flavourings such as chilli; food cooked in this style.’ It is no secret, however, that plenty of the most common items on the Tex-Mex table are unambiguously […]

Read more »
fight of the century

12 boxing metaphors you hear all the time

Although the sport still enjoys a relatively large following today, the huge popularity that boxing had over a century ago is obvious when you look at the impact that the sport has had on the English language. In fact, there are plenty of common boxing terms and situations that you use in a figurative sense […]

Read more »

Tweets