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

Category: Word trends and new words

Shifted meanings: flash mob

Pillow Fight

Flash mob is a relatively recent addition to Oxford Dictionaries Online. The phrase is defined in the World English version of the dictionary as “a public gathering of complete strangers, organized via the Internet or mobile phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again”, and with somewhat more brevity in the US version […]

Trout pout, misery memoir, and Nollywood: ODO quarterly update August 2011

Talking dog

Every quarter, we update the current English dictionary in Oxford Dictionaries Online with new words and meanings that have made it into common usage. For this update, we’ve added dozens of words, from aha moment to yuck factor. You might do a fist pump (on your own) or a more subtle fist bump (with someone […]

A century of defining our language

coed logo

Since the publication of its first edition in 1911, the revolutionary Concise Oxford Dictionary has remained in print and gained fame around the world over the course of eleven editions. This month heralds the publication of the centenary edition: the new 12th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary contains some 400 new entries, including […]

An interactive guide to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

An interactive guide

The Concise Oxford Dictionary is 100 years old! To celebrate the centenary of this bestselling dictionary we have created a fascinating interactive tour charting the history of this landmark publication. Explore our interactive guide to discover the story of a dictionary that has been a trusted guide to English for millions of people, and has faithfully recorded how our […]

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Riotous words

Riot police

Various English cities spent a good portion of last week dealing with rioting, avoiding the riots, commenting on said riots, and cleaning up the aftermath. Leaving aside the ongoing discussion regarding the causes and effects of these civil disturbances, it would be interesting to look at the word riot itself. Riot has been in use […]

‘Hackergate’: the language of scandal

‘Hackergate’: the language of scandal

As the phone-hacking scandal continues to loom large in much of the world’s media, so we hear more and more instances of associated vocabulary – fit and proper, hacking, blagging. Not all of these terms are new – after all hacking has been around for quite some time – but they demonstrate how often scandals […]

Which word is older?

Escalator

Arnold Zwicky, a professor of linguistics at Stanford University, several years ago coined a term for the mistaken belief that a word is newer than it actually is – the recency illusion. This is an easy trap to fall into – many people feel that if a word is new to them that it must be […]

Shifted meanings: marriage

Just married

Last week New York became the sixth state in the US (and the largest so far) to pass legislation that would allow same-sex marriage. The law was promptly signed by the Governor, and should be in effect within the month. It is fairly common knowledge that the word gay has changed its meaning over the […]

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