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

‘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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An interactive guide to Prince William’s ancestry

Guide to Prince William's ancestry

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert < King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra < > King George V and Queen Mary < > King George VI and Queen Elizabeth < > Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh < > Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales < > The happy couple: Prince […]

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Birds losing direction followed by weapon (9)

Crossword

Never mind all those fancy games devised to get your brain working – if you want to keep mentally sharp and alert, and at the same time increase your vocabulary, it’s difficult to beat a good crossword. Whether you prefer concise, cryptic, or general knowledge versions, once you start completing a crossword, it can be […]

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Animal words in Oxford Dictionaries Online

Elephant

Oxford Dictionaries Online is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful words, as well as practical help with grammar, English language usage, and writing. Among the 350,000 definitions and entries in our free online dictionary, you will find thousands of words related to animals, from abalone to zorse. If you’ve never heard of a boodie […]

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Compliment or complement?

Compliment or complement

A lot of people get these two words confused. It’s easy to see why: they’re pronounced in the same way and have very similar spellings but they have completely different meanings. If you compliment someone, you are expressing admiration for them, or praising them for something. Here are some examples from the Oxford English Corpus showing the […]

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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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Mother’s Day

Tulips

This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK: that day of the year on which mothers are particularly honoured by their children. In North America and South Africa it is the second Sunday in May; in Britain it has become another term for Mothering Sunday. According to A Dictionary of English Folklore as cited […]

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