Video: what is the origin of the term ‘brass monkey’?

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kissing otters

6 words for kissing for International Kissing Day

To celebrate International Kissing Day, we’re taking a look in the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to explore synonyms for the verb kiss across time. 1. Buss (a1566) The noun buss, meaning ‘a kiss, especially a loud or vigorous one’, is first found in the mid-16th century, according to current OED research. It […]

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Capturing the interweb of words: more notes on the OED update

‘Have you heard of this new inter-web thingy?’ one character sarcastically asks of another  in a quotation recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary’s new entry for Interweb. The humorous power of this self-consciously incorrect mashup of a word lies in the fact that for many of us in 2015, the World Wide Web is often […]

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June WOTD quiz

Vocabulary quiz: how well do you know June’s Words of the Day?

What is a Vorstellung? Or a definiendum? This month we’d like to quiz you about June’s Words of the Day. How many do you know? Not yet signed up to our free Word of the Day service? Click here to receive your daily word. 

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Going sour: sweet words in slang

Slang—mocking, sneering, casting a jaundiced eye on the world’s proprieties—is by its nature sour. It finds approval hard, congratulation challenging, and affection almost impossible. Yet even if slang’s oldest meaning of “sugar” is money, and the second oldest a euphemism for the most common term for defecation, slang, for all its skepticism, cannot resist the […]

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“As to the Adjective: when in doubt, strike it out.” - Mark Twain

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Video: can literally mean figuratively?

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Quiz: how well do you know your Independence Day quotations?

The actor Will Smith was not present at the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1776. At least there are no pictures that show him next to Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin on that historic day. No official pictures anyway. However, there are many similarities between Independence Day – the 1996 film starring […]

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