russian easter

Pancakes, eggs, and effigies: springtime in Russia

Russia is a notoriously chilly place. And while snow may have its appeal, there comes a time when even the hardiest Muscovite starts willing for the first signs of spring and the chance to pack away their fur coat (shuby/шубы) for a few months. As the saying goes: vesna ne prosto vremya goda, a sostoyanie […]

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children's classics

Quiz: how well do you know classic children’s literature?

Since it’s International Children’s Book Day today (observed on 2 April as it is the birthday of renowned children’s author Hans Christian Andersen), we’re testing your knowledge of some of the children’s books published as Oxford World’s Classics.

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Grungespeak: the greatest language hoax of the 1990s

In honor of April Fools’ Day, we take a look back at one of the great language hoaxes of the past several decades. Back in 1992, ‘grunge’ was the next big thing in American culture. Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind had hit the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, fashion designer Marc Jacobs had just […]

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Poll: what do you call knocking on a door and running away?

This isn’t the world’s most innovative or funny prank, and we certainly don’t want to encourage people to try it at home for April Fools’ Day – but knocking on someone’s door (or ringing their doorbell) and running away before they have a chance to answer is of surprising linguistic interest. Although most people are […]

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Contagious metaphors: from Typhoid Mary to quarantine

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the final quarantine of Mary Mallon, better known as ‘Typhoid Mary’, who was the first recognized asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. An Irish-born cook in the New York City metropolitan area, Mallon caused several outbreaks of typhoid in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While several dozen infections […]

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Why is the plural of ‘moose’ not ‘meese’?

As fitting as it might sound, the plural of moose is not and has never been meese. And while it is tempting to switch out -oo- for -ee-, the plural of moose is simply moose (though you may occasionally see or hear the word mooses). This confusion is understandable if you consider the word goose, […]

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succeed betrayal

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Kendrick Lamar

WordWatch roundup: negus, insurgent, collywobbles, Plantagenet, and snoop

This series investigates changes in lookups for words and their meanings across The graphs are based on website data collected over a four-week period, and the accompanying commentary explores how news and other current events have influenced these word trends and sudden peaks in interest. insurgent / divergent It will probably come as a […]

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