Christmas pudding, steaming hot, pour on the custard, eat the lot!

Christmas pudding, steaming hot, pour on the custard, eat the lot!

This weekend I’m sure some of you will be fishing for the wooden spoon and donning the pinny. For this Sunday is Stir-up Sunday, the traditional day to prepare your mincemeat or Christmas pudding for your forthcoming Christmas feast. The origin of the Christmas pudding goes back to medieval England but the Christmas pudding we […]

Words we're thankful for

Words we’re thankful for

Here on the OxfordWords blog we’re constantly awed and impressed by the breadth and depth of the English language. As this is a great week to be appreciative, we’ve asked some fellow language-lovers which word they’re most thankful for. From quark to quotidian, ych a fi to robot, here’s what they said: stillicide Of incredible […]

Let there be concord: some tips on bringing agreement to subjects and verbs

Let there be concord: some tips on bringing agreement to subjects and verbs

Let’s start with a positive: there are a few basics of grammar which most native speakers of English have no problems with (hoorah!). For instance, it comes naturally to the majority of us to use a singular verb if only one person or thing is the subject (that is, doing the action) of a sentence […]

Seven words that gained fame on TV shows

Seven words that gained fame on TV shows

Television shows have a huge influence on popular culture, and so it is not surprising that many words and phrases have come into common usage through the medium of television. Here are a few of our favourite words and phrases that were popularized through iconic TV shows. mind-meld In science fiction, this is a (supposed) technique for […]

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Grab your bezzie and get ready for deets of the ODO November 2012 update!

Grab your bezzie and get ready for deets of the ODO November 2012 update!

If you’re as twitterpated by dictionaries as we are, you’ll want to be the first to hear about some of the words going into Oxford Dictionaries Online this quarter. Whatever they may be, they certainly aren’t hacky – and you might even find them useful in some situations, for example. . . With the boyf […]

Cut, print, and that’s a wrap: The origins of filmic language

That’s a wrap! The origins of filmic language

“Film is history.” I’m reminded in the above quote by Martin Scorsese (who, impressively, enters his 49th year as a feature film director in 2012) that film and history are inextricably linked. By its very nature, a film is a historical artifact—a record of some past action that preserves the moment for time to come. Film, […]

The Twihard Years: the language of the Twilight Saga

The Twihard Years: the language of the Twilight Saga

Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga has been one of the most successful franchises of the decade. On the back of her four incredibly successful books, there have been four box office hits (the fifth being released in the UK this month), a spin-off book, extensive fan fiction – indeed the mummy-porn sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey […]

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nutshell

In a nutshell, cutting the mustard by the skin of your teeth: popular idioms explained

Why do good things ‘cut the mustard’? The word mustard has been used to mean something excellent or superlative for almost a hundred years—the phrase ‘keen as mustard’ draws on the same idea of added piquancy and zest. ‘Hot stuff’, in other words. In America, to say something was ‘the proper mustard’ in the early […]

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