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

South African English: braais, babalaas, and a monkey’s wedding

Kombi

On 27 April South Africans celebrate Freedom Day, the anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. As a South African ex-pat living in the UK and working for Oxford Dictionaries, I often think about the similarities and differences between the English spoken ‘back home’ and standard British English. Robots have taken over the […]

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Author? Author?

Gulliver's Travels

We might spend our days on the Net, but we all love books at Oxford Dictionaries Online. Here’s an interactive quiz in honour of World Book Day, which gives a selection of words to be matched up with the authors who invented them. Think that Oscar Wilde coined the word witticism? Click to play and […]

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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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Incony questrists: Shakespeare’s ‘rare ornaments’ of the English language

Shakespeare

Shakespeare was writing at a time when the English language was in an unusual state of flux. Many English books, and even plays (though not those intended for the popular theatre) were still written wholly in Latin, because this was the best way to achieve an international readership. Shakespeare himself uses many Latin tags (Latin […]

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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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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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