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

1920s

20 words that originated in the 1920s

The 1920s wasn’t just a period of decadence and flappers in a post-war haze of happiness. While The Great Gatsby drew attention to a world of insouciant pleasure-seeking, the 1920s also saw plenty of words enter the language. Some seem apt for the era, some might surprise, and all twenty selected below have survived for […]

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toilet

How we stopped wearing toilets and started using them

It’s a fascinating fact of linguistic history that some words hardly change their main meaning or develop new meanings, while other words swing Tarzan-like from one semantic treetop to another leaving their past completely behind. One such word is toilet. ‘A kind of Toilet on their Heads’ As you might expect of a word derived […]

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food coma cat

New words added to Oxford Dictionaries, from food coma to shvitz

Our latest quarterly update to Oxford Dictionaries Online has seen a selection of new words, definitions, and senses added to the dictionary. The words originate in a range of spheres from food (branzino, cranachan) and music (beat-match) to astronomy (protoplanet) and, unsurprisingly, technology (lock screen, headcam), and include a variety of different word forms, from […]

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Facebook

What happens when language becomes “Facebook official”?

It’s hard to imagine that just 10 years ago, few of us had even heard of Facebook. What initially started out as a social network for students of Harvard University has grown into one of the most frequented (and valuable) domains in all of the vast space of the Internet. As quickly as the now […]

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felfie

Farmily album: the rise of the felfie

Words are patient things. They need to be: language change is often a slow process, measured, for the most part, in centuries and not months. A new word (a neologism), whether it enters English as a loanword, a borrowing from another language, or whether it is formed within English from pre-existing words and affixes, usually […]

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flash_mob

5 (more) words that are older than you think

Every year words are invented or have surges of popularity – some stand the test of time, and remain in dictionaries of current English – and some quietly retreat into the pages of historical dictionaries. Perhaps it is encouraging, to anybody anxious about the seeming surge of new words which enter the world’s vocabulary every […]

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planets

‘Selfie’: the interplanetary Word of the Year 2013

When we announced the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 as ‘selfie’ earlier this week, we knew the word had international relevance (one of the reasons why we thought it merited the title of Word of the Year), but we didn’t know it had interplanetary reach until we saw this tweet from @MarsCuriosity showing […]

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Word of the Year 2013: blips on our radar

Detail of selected items from the previous graph

As OUP’s lexicographers go about our quiet work, occasionally a novel word, spied in a newspaper, a post, or a tweet, catches our fancy. “Possible WOTY?!!!” we might email to a colleague, anticipating the year’s end. When we go back through those old emails months later, it is sometimes difficult to remember what inspired such […]

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Tweets