OxfordWords blog en-gb Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:57:30 +0000 Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:57:30 +0000 () Video: bare or bear? http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/bare-or-bear/ <em>Bare</em> and <em>bear</em> sound the same, but their meanings are quite different. Make sure you know which one to use by watching this video. Read more about how to <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/bare-or-bear">use <em>bare</em> and <em>bear</em> correctly in a sentence</a>. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/OxfordDictionaries" target="_blank"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-31726" src="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/YouTube-Banner.png" alt="YouTube Banner" width="600" height="80" /></a> 10:39 am http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33674 Oxford Dictionaries Grammar and writing help Words from Nine Worlds – one year on http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/nine-worlds-words/ <img width="566" height="377" src="http://cdn.oxwordsblog.wpfuel.co.uk/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/nine-worlds-566x377.jpg" class="attachment-bigembed" alt="nine worlds" /><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/">Oxford Dictionaries</a> are always on the lookout for <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/how-do-you-decide-whether-a-new-word-should-be-included-in-an-oxford-dictionary">new language to consider for inclusion</a>. Research is not restricted to printed material, but includes language used online (especially <a href="http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/june-2015-update/release-notes-capturing-the-interweb-of-words/">Usenet and Twitter</a>) and by particular groups of speakers with specialist knowledge. <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2014_9W_wordle.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-33680" src="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2014_9W_wordle.png" alt="Nine Worlds 2014 words" width="600" height="383" /></a> In <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/08/finding-geeky-words-nine-worlds/">August 2014</a>, while I was at the <a href="https://nineworlds.co.uk/">Nine Worlds</a> convention, speaking about <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/07/created-languages-dothraki-valyrian-game-thrones/">conlangs</a> and generally enjoying myself, I took the opportunity to set up a dictionary corner so that people could come and talk about all the geek words which they used or had heard but which were not yet in our dictionaries. The contributions – depicted in the word cloud above – reflected all the various track themes of the convention: fanfic, feminism and gender politics, gaming, speculative fiction, and knitting. <h3>Back at Nine Worlds</h3> I was invited back to Nine Worlds 2015 to report back on how all these words had fared and, of course, to harvest a new crop. A number of the words submitted in August 2014 were coincidentally just on the cusp of publication (<em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/catfish">catfish</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/intersectionality">intersectionality</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mansplain">mansplain</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/fandom">fandom</a></em>), and others were already being researched on the basis of other evidence which the <a href="http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/june-2015-update/new-words-notes-june-2015/">Nine Worlds contributions supported</a> (<em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/adorkable">adorkable</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/babywearing">babywearing</a></em>, particular senses of <em>fridge</em>, <em>frog</em>, and <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/ship#ship-2">ship</a></em>). The rest of the words and senses were put forward for our lexicographers to review. One year on, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mx#Mx">Mx</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/meeple">meeple</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/pwn">pwn</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rage-quit">rage-quit</a></em>, and <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/kayfabe">kayfabe</a></em> have been <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/08/new-words-update-manspreading-mic-drop/">added to OxfordDictionaries.com</a> and <em><a href="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue">Mary Sue</a></em> – the trope of a flawless overachieving female character, arguably an author avatar, which dates back to Star Trek fanfic from 1974 -  is being prepared. <h3>Finding new words</h3> What about the Nine Worlds words gathered this year? Here they are: <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2015_9W_wordle.png"><img class="aligncenter wp-image-33679" src="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2015_9W_wordle.png" alt="Nine Worlds 2015 words" width="600" height="383" /></a> Another rich and diverse collection, with particularly strong representation from the areas of gaming (<em>bag of holding</em>, <em>kite</em>, <em>damage soak</em>), media tropes (<em>nut graf</em>, <em>hatereading</em>, <em>ho yay</em>, <em>queerbaiting</em>), and gender politics (<em>rape culture</em>, <em>white feminism</em>, <em>kyriarchy</em>, <em>transmisogyny</em>). Just like last year, a few of the suggestions were actually already in our dictionaries (<em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/AFK">AFK</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bae">bae</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/inside-baseball">inside baseball</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/misgender">misgender</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/YMMV">YMMV</a></em>). Pleasingly, some had already been researched and edited as part of Oxford’s new words monitoring programme and were added to <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/">OxfordDictionaries.com</a> just days after Nine Worlds took place. These included <em>genderfluid</em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/cissexism">cissexism</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/manic-pixie-dream-girl">manic pixie dream girl</a></em>, <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mecha">mecha</a></em>, and <em><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/slut-shaming">slut-shaming</a></em>. All the rest were already, or are now, under editorial consideration. How many of the others might have made it in by next year? Watch this space! 4:10 pm http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33678 Catherine Sangster Word trends and new words What does ‘bun’ mean to you? http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/what-does-bun-mean-to-you/ <img width="566" height="377" src="http://cdn.oxwordsblog.wpfuel.co.uk/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/buns-566x377.jpg" class="attachment-bigembed" alt="buns" />A recent poll on <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/">OxfordDictionaries.com</a> showed that 37% of our users would call a bread roll a <em>bun</em>, which makes it second only to <em>roll</em> as the most common way to say this. This is not, to me, what a <em>bun</em> would be, and so naively—with no concept of the can of worms I was opening—I asked a couple of colleagues what sort of food they think a <em>bun</em> is. <h3>Bread or cake?</h3> To one of my colleagues (a person who grew up in the North of England, as I did), a <em>bun</em> is a <em>fairy cake</em>, which was the answer I was hoping for. To my other colleague (from Canada) this was completely unheard of: a <em>bun</em> is only ever a bread roll, as our poll results support. Two American colleagues overheard the discussion and weighed in that a <em>bun</em> is definitely bread. As I was asking, I found that <em>fairy cake</em> was clearly inadequate to describe what I was picturing, because <em>fairy cake </em>itself is regional. I asked vaguely if you would eat it from a paper case, before relenting to using the word <em>cupcake</em>, which still has an American sound to my ears despite the evidence of over 2,000 hits in the New Monitor Corpus for British English speakers suggesting otherwise. I could also test my theory by checking people’s reaction to <em>chocolate bun</em>, which is a concept that is fine for a sponge cake, but quite a bit more experimental for a bread roll. One Scottish colleague was disgusted at the very idea. Over the course of the day, I asked different co-workers for their views, making up a mental map of where the dividing lines fell. In broad sweeps, I found that those from the South of England, those from Scotland, and those from North America said that a <em>bun</em> was bread (or simply and emphatically ‘not cake’). Many would allow that it could be sweet (as in a <em>hot cross bun</em>, or <em>Chelsea bun</em>) but these are made with dough, so they are in essence a sweet bread and not a cake. Most of those from the North of England fell into the <em>cake</em> side of things, though there was some variation in the answers I got from Yorkshire folk. My rather small sample size of one from Ireland agreed with the North of England that a<em> bun</em> is a cake. This was backed up by evidence from the Oxford English Corpus, where over a third of uses of <em>bun</em> had them being explicitly included with cakes or desserts for Irish speakers. <h3>Not as simple as it appears</h3> I found a lot of hesitation in answering, “If I offered you a bun, what would you be eating?”. People had to think for a moment; it was not like <em>scone as in gone</em> or <em>scone as in cone</em>, where everyone has picked their side of the fence long ago. There were a lot of qualifications. “If you say cinnamon bun, then it’s sweet like a cake”, or “A hamburger bun is bread, but I’d have to say <em>hamburger</em>, not just bun”. When the other option was revealed, I found that some became more attached to their answer: “It might not be <em>bread</em> exactly, but it would never be a <em>fairy cake</em>!” or “I’d never put currants in it!”. It is possible that this reluctance was because I was largely asking fellow lexicographers, who know by now that any question about a word’s meaning is not as simple as it appears. As with all debates concerning regional varieties, passions flared, and so we turned to the dictionaries at our disposal to settle the matter. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/">OxfordDictionaries.com</a> has three different senses: one which uses the word <em>cake</em>; one which uses the word <em>bread</em>; and one which uses both words. A tie, then. The <em><a href="http://www.oed.com/">Oxford English Dictionary</a> </em>(<em>OED</em>) has a lengthy definition which covers the spectrum of uses, and notes that in the earlier examples that have been found (dating all the way back to the 14<sup>th</sup> century) we can’t be sure which was meant by the authors. We were all of us right, then, and so none can be declared the ultimate winner. No one could even say, “Ah, but mine came first!”, which is a spurious victory at any rate, no matter how satisfying. <h3>The advantage of numbers</h3> Having North America weighing in on the side of <em>bread </em>certainly gives that team the advantage of numbers. I wonder if this is why a search for pictures online showed me bread roll after bread roll, or if it is just that those who agree with me that a <em>bun</em> is a small cake are not taking photos to prove it. It is clear to me that my meaning of <em>bun</em> is very much a minority view, and I suspect that I know how opening this question to you, dear reader, will go, and that it won’t be in my favour. My curiosity gets the better of me, though, so I am asking regardless. If I hear just a few more voices crying “Cake!” I will feel vindicated. <strong>Let us know how you voted and where you’re from in the comment section!</strong> 12:05 pm http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33669 Rebecca Hotchen Varieties of English New words from the wide world of pop culture http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/08/pop-culture-new-words/ <img width="566" height="373" src="http://cdn.oxwordsblog.wpfuel.co.uk/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/colorful-popcorn-566x373.jpg" class="attachment-bigembed" alt="colorful popcorn" /><p class="p1"><b></b>Pop culture has always been fertile territory for new words, ranging from television shows to 1980s films to Shakespeare. From Japanese manga to the world of professional wrestling, here are a few new words from the world of pop culture that have been added to OxfordDictionaries.com.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/MacGyver" target="_blank">MacGyver</a></h3> <p class="p1">Although the television show <i>MacGyver</i> ended back in 1992, Angus MacGyver’s penchant for ‘making or repairing (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand’ has lived on in language. The word now serves as a synonym with <i>jury-rig</i>, with people ‘MacGyvering a makeshift jack with a log’.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/holodeck" target="_blank">holodeck</a></h3> <p class="p1">Maybe the most lexically influential of all science fiction worlds, the <i>Star Trek </i>universe has contributed several words and phrases to our language, ranging from <i>warp speed </i>to <i>Beam me up, Scotty!</i> to <i>mind meld </i>to <i>photon torpedo</i>. Another term that <i>Star Trek </i>has contributed is <i>holodeck</i>, which first appeared in <i>Star Trek: the Next Generation </i>(1987-1994), and refers to ‘a chamber or facility in which a user can experience a holographic or computer-simulated physical environment’. The word is probably a blend of <i>hologram </i>and <i>deck</i>.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hoverboard" target="_blank">hoverboard</a></h3> <p class="p1">Popularized by the seminal sci-fi film <i>Back to the Future Part II</i>, the <i>hoverboard </i>has soared back into popular culture as 2015 marks both the 30<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the release of the original film, and the ‘future’ that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) visit in Part II. Recent headlines have also been made by Lexus, in their quest to develop a hoverboard and accompanying skatepark.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/kayfabe" target="_blank">kayfabe</a></h3> <p class="p1">Probably not familiar to those outside the world of pro wrestling, the term <i>kayfabe </i>refers to ‘the fact or convention of presenting staged performances as genuine or authentic’. The origin of the word is uncertain, although it is often said to have arisen in American travelling carnivals. The word has been interpreted by some as being an alteration of ‘be fake’ backwards, while the <i>-ay-</i> element is typical of the way words are formed in Pig Latin.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mecha" target="_blank">mecha</a></h3> <p class="p1">While the term <i>mecha</i> started out in Japanese manga and anime, it has since spread to other science fiction realms as well, including film and video games. <i>Mecha</i> refers to a ‘large armoured robot, typically controlled by a person riding inside the robot itself’. The word comes from the Japanese <i>mekanizumu</i>, which means ‘mechanism’.</p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/manic-pixie-dream-girl" target="_blank">manic pixie dream girl</a> (MPDG)</h3> <p class="p1">The manic pixie dream girl is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin in 2007, with reference to the Kirsten Dunst’s character in the 2005 Cameron Crowe film <i>Elizabethtown</i>. The term refers to a ‘type of female character depicted as vivacious and appealingly quirky, whose main purpose within the narrative is to inspire a greater appreciation in life in a male protagonist’. The term has since taken on a cultural life all its own. To learn more, check out <a href="http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/08/video-manic-pixie-dream-girl/" target="_blank">our MPDG video</a>.</p> 11:45 am http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33561 Oxford Dictionaries Word trends and new words 12 pronunciations to help you avoid embarrassment in literature class http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/literature-class-words-pronunciation/ <img width="566" height="377" src="http://cdn.oxwordsblog.wpfuel.co.uk/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/literature-class-566x377.jpg" class="attachment-bigembed" alt="literature class" />As the school year picks back up again, so do your odds of having to say out loud a word in class that you've only ever seen on paper. Don’t worry: we've all been there before. That’s why we’re here to help with this list of 12 words whose pronunciation might trip you up. Obviously, you already know the definitions of these words, but we’ve included them here also – just as, you know, a friendly reminder. (Don’t say <em>anaphora</em> when you mean <em>analogy</em>!) <h3>1. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/analogy" target="_blank">analogy</a></h3> https://youtu.be/ItBTcYbigPM <p class="p1">An <i>analogy</i> refers to ‘a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification’.</p> <h3>2. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/anaphora" target="_blank">anaphora</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSSTSOjZMIw <p class="p1">An <i>anaphora</i> is ‘the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses’.</p> <h3>3. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/denouement" target="_blank">denouement</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiqSPImQlvs <p class="p1"><i>Denouement </i>refers to ‘the final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved’.</p> <h3>4. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/doppelg%C3%A4nger" target="_blank">doppelgänger</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APFH8AbHJ4Q <p class="p1">The German term <i>doppelgänger</i> refers to ‘an apparition or double of a living person’.</p> <h3>5. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/metonymy" target="_blank">metonymy</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A53Frlt8GmE <p class="p1"><i>Metonymy </i>refers to ‘the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant’, for example <i>suit</i> for <i>business executive</i>, or the <i>turf</i> for <i>horse racing</i>.</p> <h3>6. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/omniscient" target="_blank">omniscient</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M13vwOYlgFA <p class="p1">The word <i>omniscient </i>refers to a being that knows everything. In literature, the notion of an ‘omniscient narrator’ often comes up.</p> <h3>7. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/pastiche" target="_blank">pastiche</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YK1xEe3moH0 <p class="p1"><i>Pastiche </i>can refer to ‘an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period’ or to ‘an artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces imitating various sources’.</p> <h3>8. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/rhetoric" target="_blank">rhetoric</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP7RLTa6baU <p class="p1"><i>Rhetoric </i> can refer to ‘the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques’ or ‘language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect, but which is often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content’.</p> <h3>9. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/semiotics" target="_blank">semiotics</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8wMd8yvV4Q <p class="p1"><i>Semiotics </i>refers to the study of signs and symbols and their interpretation.</p> <h3>10. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/simile" target="_blank">simile</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUop9bGQGsI <p class="p1">A <i>simile</i> is ‘a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid (e.g. as <i>brave</i> as a <i>lion</i>)’. Don’t confuse it with <i>smile</i>!</p> <h3>11. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/simulacrum" target="_blank">simulacrum</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in8psjv-urs <p class="p1"><i>Simulacrum </i>can refer to either ‘an image or representation of someone or something’ or ‘an unsatisfactory imitation or substitute’.</p> <h3>12. <a href="http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/synecdoche" target="_blank">synecdoche</a></h3> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9LH3VcwUB8 <p class="p1">A <i>synecdoche</i> refers to a ‘figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa, as in <i>England lost by six wickets</i> (meaning ‘the English cricket team’)’.</p> 3:38 pm http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33526 Oxford Dictionaries Grammar and writing help 11 baking idioms to whet your appetite http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/09/11-baking-idioms/ <img width="566" height="377" src="http://cdn.oxwordsblog.wpfuel.co.uk/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/baking3-566x377.jpg" class="attachment-bigembed" alt="baking" /><em>The Great British Bake Off </em>is now back on UK screens, and we thought it would be the perfect excuse to spend a post writing about phrases in English which use baking in them. Shockingly, it turns out that we love slipping cakes into everyday conversation – there are a lot of them! <h3>1. To be caught with your hand in the cookie jar</h3> Have you ever had one (or a few) too many cookies and then felt horribly guilty about it? If so, this is the phrase for you! It extends figuratively to encompass someone being caught doing anything wrong or mischievous. <h3>2. Easy as pie</h3> This phrase refers to ‘something easily accomplished or dealt with’and began life, according to the <em>OED</em>, in the early 20<sup>th</sup> century. We all know just how easy it is to consume a slice of pie (or a whole pie…). <h3>3. The icing on the cake</h3> Both this and <em>cherry on top </em>refer to ‘an additional benefit to something that is already good’, although they can now also used ironically to mean the opposite of this. So why are these common analogies? Essentially, because: cake is good; cake with icing is an improvement; cake with icing and a cherry is infinitely better. <h3>4. To take the biscuit</h3> The phrase is used in British English to refer to something that is the most remarkable of its kind; it can also be used ironically to refer to something that is foolish or annoying. In North American English <em>to take the cake</em> is used instead. <h3>5. To have a finger in every pie</h3> Meaning: ‘to be involved in too many things’, generally with the negative connotation of doing too many things to be able to do any of them well – this is a popular concept across the globe, with similar idioms in other languages. Italian, for instance, has the very similar <em>avere le mani in pasta, </em>meaning ‘to have your hands in dough’, and in Yiddish there is <em>.</em><em>מיט</em> <em>איין</em> <em>תּחת</em> <em>קען</em> <em>מען</em> <em>ניט</em> <em>טאַנצן</em> <em>אויף</em> <em>צוויי</em> <em>חתונות</em>, meaning ‘You can’t dance at two weddings with one behind.’ <h3>6. Cookie cutter</h3> This is a common term in US English, and uses the baking implement metaphorically to refer to ‘something mass-produced or lacking any distinguishing characteristics’. It seems to be most commonly used in association with buildings, as in ‘cookie-cutter apartments’ or ‘cookie-cutter complexes’. <h3>7. To have your cake and eat it too</h3> You can’t enjoy two desirable but mutually exclusive things, or so Confucius says. This idiom’s first recorded English use in the <em>OED</em> is from John Heywood’s <em>Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies</em> (1562. <h3>8. As American as apple pie</h3> Apple pie is seen as a stereotypically American food, so this idiom means ‘embodying traditional values; particularly American ideals’. In Australia, you’re more likely to hear: <em>as Australian as meat pie</em>. <h3>9. Cake hole</h3> <em>Cake hole</em> is used informally to mean ‘mouth’, often used in sentences like  ‘Shut your cake hole!’ The origin for this one is self-explanatory: the mouth is the <em>hole</em> that the <em>cake</em> goes into. More recently, <em>pie hole</em> has become a common version of this. <h3>10. To sell like hotcakes</h3> Used to refer to something that sells quickly and in large quantities. But what exactly is a <em>hotcake</em>? In North America, <em>hotcake</em> is used to mean any type of cake which is baked on a griddle, including pancakes. <h3>11. That’s the way the cookie crumbles</h3> This means ‘that is the way it is’ and came into use in the 20<sup>th</sup> century. In American English, you’ll also hear: <em>that’s the way the ball bounces</em>. 10:41 am http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/?p=33657 Tabitha Whiting English in use