The Latin days of the week in imperial Rome were named after the planets, which in turn were named after gods. These names were adopted in translated form by the English and other Germanic peoples. In most cases the Germanic names have substituted the Roman god’s name with that of a comparable one from the [...]
To commemorate the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 we are looking at English words of French origin. Hover over the image below to discover a selection of English words derived from French, from abattoir to zigzag. Click on the words to go straight to the dictionary entries.
This is not a shockingly grammatical sequel to the acclaimed series, but a chance to revel in the magically inventive language of the Harry Potter books. The release of the final Harry Potter film this week marks the end of an era for a generation of book and film lovers, having made author J. K. [...]
‘Bloomsday’ is commemorated throughout the world on June 16, celebrating the day, in 1904, on which the action of James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel Ulysses takes place. The word cloud above showcases just a few of the contributions to the English language made by James Joyce in all of his works, not just Ulysses. From dreck [...]
Smile goggle-eyed at them and blow raspberries at them. Jo was chatting to me on the dog We would urge people to use their loaf when parking and make sure they don’t leave anything of value on display. Rhyming slang, although almost 200 years old, is alive and kicking today: all the above examples are [...]
Dinosaurs – those prehistoric animals that walked the earth long before humans were a twinkle in evolution’s eye – fascinate many of us. Not only are we drawn to their ‘monstrous’ and otherworldly appearance, we also find their names intriguing. ‘Lizard hips’ and ‘bird hips’ A dinosaur can be any of a large number of reptiles [...]
Today’s English owes much to many of the world’s languages, from French and German to Chinese and Hindi. Our interactive map below is the first of an occasional series which will offer you a glimpse of the range of linguistic influences that English has absorbed.
Click on the map to see how English has been shaped by French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Flemish. Your armchair travels should give you some interesting discoveries: could you guess the origins of fluff, anchovy, vamoose, and baize?
Shakespeare was writing at a time when the English language was in an unusual state of flux. Many English books, and even plays (though not those intended for the popular theatre) were still written wholly in Latin, because this was the best way to achieve an international readership. Shakespeare himself uses many Latin tags (Latin [...]
- Competitions and quizzes (26)
- Dictionaries and lexicography (116)
- English in use (303)
- Grammar and writing help (58)
- Interactive features (46)
- OED Appeals (4)
- Other languages (50)
- Varieties of English (28)
- Word origins (156)
- Word trends and new words (93)