Category: Word origins

black friday shopping

The origin of Black Friday and other Black Days

Across the US, those who are not too replete with their Thanksgiving feast will be braving the crowds in order to secure themselves one of the bargains associated with Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving which is often regarded as the first day of Christmas shopping in the US. Even on the Thanksgiving-less shores of […]

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Thanksgiving sides

The many ‘sides’ of Thanksgiving… and the English language

We may talk a lot of turkey during the holiday, but US Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. Yes, we pile our plates with mashed potatoes and green beans, but we also feast on the many other great sides the English language has to offer. From all sides During the holiday, both sides of a family may gather together out in a relative’s home in […]

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play to the gallery

11 popular expressions explained

Why do we bury the hatchet? The phrase, meaning to end an argument or conflict, refers back to a Native American custom in the seventeenth century whereby a hatchet or tomahawk would be buried in the ground to signal the laying down of arms and the declaration of peace between warring groups. Why do we […]

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Four men playing poker.

A Five-star, Four-flusher of a Word for BSers

I’ve been drowning in bullshit, but in a good way. In my new book Bullshit: A Lexicon, I discuss common (malarkey, mumbo jumbo) and rare terms (flubdub, meadow mayonnaise) for BS and BSers. When people hear I’ve been spending my time on such a mature, humanitarian endeavor, they often ask what’s my favorite BS word. […]

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An illustration of Cerberus by William Blake.

31 fearsome monsters from around the world

Sometimes it seems like the only monsters we talk about nowadays are vampires, zombies, and werewolves. We here at thought that was a shame, so we did some digging and pulled together this grand list of monsters to terrify and amuse you (and maybe even provide some of you with last-minute costume ideas!). 1. […]

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Lewis Magnum Opus

The Murderer’s Magnum Opus: ITV’s Lewis trends on Oxford Dictionaries

Oxford is a very dangerous place to live at the moment. A body has been found in the woods, bludgeoned to death, and decorated with maggots and a dead raven as part of what seems to be a bizarre alchemical ceremony. When another body is found in the river, tied to a wooden stake with […]

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Video: what is the origin of the word ‘soccer’?

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cold war

George Orwell and the origin of the term ‘cold war’

On 19 October 1945  George Orwell used the term cold war in his essay ‘You and the Atom Bomb’,  speculating on the repercussions of the atomic age which had begun two months before when the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. In this article, Orwell considered the social and political implications of ‘a […]

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