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

GTL, DTS, and T-shirt time: a look at Jersey Shore’s lingo

Weights

As a New Jersey native and self-confessed reality TV junkie, I enjoy watching the television show Jersey Shore, and recognizing some of the local vocabulary  – terms like benny (a non-local who comes down to the Shore, usually used in a pejorative sense) and youse (an informal plural of ‘you’). The show also introduced me to […]

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A penny for your thoughts …

Penny

According to some, today is ‘Lucky Penny Day’. The OED describes a ‘lucky penny’ as usually one that is bent or perforated, or sometimes an old or foreign coin. In the early nineteenth century, a ‘luck-penny’ was defined as ‘the cash which the seller gives back to the buyer after the latter has paid him; […]

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Has the culture of the ‘celeb’ begun to decline?

Paparazzi

The Oxford English Corpus, our unique two-billion word database of real twenty-first century English, shows that the use of celebrity has risen steadily since the year 2000 – but the use of the informal abbreviation celeb has dropped since 2006. Perhaps this suggests that the public may be starting to tire of these trashy, wannabe, […]

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How a single word can change a life

Cornwall

When I was 13½, my life at school became almost unbearable. To explain why, I need to go back to the beginning. I was born on the outskirts of a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, less than half an hour from the most south-westerly tip of the UK. I grew up in a nearby town, […]

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Keeping it short and tweet

Short and tweet

I’m getting addicted to @OxfordWords on Twitter, where you can see all the latest from Oxford Dictionaries plus some great interaction with our thousands of followers. There’s a real skill to tweeting well: as many of you know, there is a 140-character limit to Twitter posts, so it can take some ingenuity to get your […]

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Goals galore but no parrots: a hundred-word football vocabulary

hundred-word football vocabulary

Fabio Capello, the Italian-born England football manager, was recently reported as saying that he could manage his players with just one hundred words of English. At the time there was much speculation as to which hundred words he would need to achieve this, and the BBC contacted Oxford Dictionaries for a list of the 100 […]

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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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Alluding to illusions …

Illusion

Emmy host Jimmy Fallon … made a sly illusion to Conan O’Brien’s firing as host of “The Tonight Show”. CNN transcripts, August 2010 (taken from the Oxford English Corpus). As the above incorrect usage shows, among many troublesome twosomes in the English language are illusion and allusion. It doesn’t help that their pronunciations are similar, […]

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