spices large

Salaries, dragons, and musk: rooting around in the spice rack

As the Bard said, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold” a pumpkin-spice latte–or beer, bubble gum, even burgers, such is the market. While we may have reached so-called “peak pumpkin” this year, the autumn season is indeed one of seasonings, of herbs and spices with the special power to evoke that cozy sense of home. From trade […]

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auger_words beginning with n

Apron, adder, and other words that used to begin with ‘n’…

The words app and nap might rhyme, but to say they sound exactly the same is quite clearly wrong. Well, it is quite clearly wrong until you precede them with the indefinite article. There is nothing (apart from context) to distinguish an app from a nap in spoken English, unless you rather take your time […]

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bastion

Hark! Is that the sound of bastions crumbling?

Shock, horror! The BBC, once revered as a paragon of correct English, seems to have slipped from its pedestal of late. Many people (including me, as I blogged about here) have become increasingly irritated or concerned by our national broadcaster’s lapses from the norm when it comes to English grammar, usage, and pronunciation. Is this […]

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selfie

Selfie – one year on

There can be few people who don’t know that a selfie is a photograph that you take of yourself, typically with your smartphone. The Editors at Oxford Dictionaries started tracking the word back in April 2012, at which time it was noted that there were 36 examples on the newspaper database Nexis ‘mainly in reference to […]

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Bow-wow, tyke, and cur: names for dogs

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election terminology

Which words did you look up this election season?

As the fervor surrounding the US midterms winds down and election fatigue settles in, we take one final look at the words that piqued your interest this week. The above chart shows the most popular terms related to elections, government, and politics on Oxforddictionaries.com 4 November (Election Day) and 5 November. The size of the […]

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ballons

90th birthday of Latin Dictionary editor

Last week we celebrated the 90th birthday of Peter Glare, the consultant editor of the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS), with a party hosted by Oxford University Press attended by family and friends. Peter became editor of the Oxford Latin Dictionary (OLD) in 1954, and brought his immense linguistic acuteness to bear on the task that […]

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marijuana

Hashing out the language of marijuana

With Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia passing measures on 4 November to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington as US regions where the sale of the drug is (or will be) legal, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the language surrounding the contested cannabis plant. Not unlike other much-discussed […]

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