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

Category: Word trends and new words

Word trends: stuff

Pie

The e-commerce site Amazon has a section titled ‘Where’s My Stuff?’ to help customers find out about undelivered orders. The use of such a vague, casual term in a corporate context is an example of the growing acceptance of informality in Internet language, but stuff was not always such a vague or informal term. It dates […]

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Inverted meanings: sick, bad, and wicked

Skater

A common trick of slang is to invert meanings, so that seemingly negative words are used as terms of approval. Bad and wicked are two established examples, although it may surprise you to see just how far back their positive uses go. The OED records ‘bad’ and ‘wicked’ used in a positive sense as long […]

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That’s so, like, totally random …

Random

In the 1990s teenagers called everything and everyone sad – but in the early 2000s this favourite word of disapproval was overtaken by random. In this second decade of the twenty-first century, even those well out of their teens can be heard using it. According to the OED, the ‘without method or conscious decision’ sense […]

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‘Muzyka’ around the ‘terre’: Earth Day and the Oxford Language Web

Oxford Language Web: music

If you didn’t already know, this Friday is Earth Day, an environmental awareness day celebrated around the world each year on 22 April since 1970. The Earth Day Network is looking for a billion separate ‘acts of green’ to be pledged and carried out by individuals aiming to reduce their carbon footprint and to promote […]

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A smorgasbord of fusion words for the Twitterati

Smorgasbord of fusion words

In March 2011 the social networking site Twitter, launched in 2006, celebrated its fifth birthday. Amid all the media discussion of tweeters, trending, and followers, the term Twitterati has cropped up quite a bit. It’s an odd-looking word, and an example of an interesting and creative variety of word formation, where a word is borrowed […]

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It’s all meme, me me…

Lolcat

When Richard Dawkins coined the word meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, he wanted a word like gene that conveyed the way in which ideas and behaviour spread within society by non-genetic means: The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which […]

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Of course ‘clownvestite’ is a word!

Clown

Part of my job involves finding the extent to which Oxford Dictionaries Online is being linked to from other websites. To perform this task I query the search engines, and to see how you use our dictionary I visit a proportion of the websites linking to ODO that I find. A significant proportion of inbound […]

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The F-word: how often do people *really* look it up?

Graph

If you are a seasoned OxfordWords reader, you may be familiar with our periodic search monitor pieces. These are interactive tag clouds, each showing a month’s snapshot of the relative frequency with which you, the users of Oxford Dictionaries Online, access different words. The words and ranks you see are drawn from our web statistics […]

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