Dalmatian

12 dog breed names and their origins

As their breed names often attest, dogs are a truly international bunch. Named for their places of origin and sometimes even their original breeders, breed names offer a fascinating look into how we relate to man’s best friend. Let’s take a look at 12 different breeds and the backstories that their names have to offer. […]

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snow

The white stuff: notes on the OED update

It’s that time again, when we bring you the very latest in additions to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and, as usual, we have lexicographical facts and figures coming out of our ears. This quarterly OED update contains around 500 new words, phrases, and senses, spanning a period of nearly 1,100 years in the history […]

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school

7 grammar myths you learned in school

Grammar can be tough. There are a lot of rules to follow, and a lot to wrap your head around. Some of the rules we learn in school, though, aren’t exactly accurate. While some function as helpful guidelines for style and form, other so-called ‘rules’ are inventions, or ‘superstitions,’ as the lexicographer Henry W. Fowler […]

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Instagram

9 Instagram hashtags you should know

Thus far in the 21st century, social media has proven itself to be a hotbed of linguistic invention. This development of specialized vocabulary and slang – some of it often spreading into more mainstream usage – is certainly true of Instagram. The very name of this social media service offers some linguistic creativity, in the […]

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shamrock

Quiz: how well do you know English words from Irish?

Do you think you’ve got the luck o’ the Irish? In light of today’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations, we thought it might be a good opportunity to quiz you on Irish words in the English language. So, before you head off to the pub tonight, take our brief quiz and make your friends green with envy with […]

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Elton John David Furnish

Word in the news: boycott

In a recent interview that appeared in the Italian magazine Panorama, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbara stirred up controversy by voicing their opposition to adoption by gay parents as well as to in vitro fertilization, advocating that ‘the only family is the traditional one’. The comments were quickly picked up by social media, […]

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stormy sea

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick-tionaries

Herman Melville’s whaling adventure Moby-Dick (1851) begins far away from the ocean. The first character we meet is an Usher to a grammar school (a junior school) who supplies an etymology of the word whale. The Usher’s etymology is the first indication to readers that there will be two parallel quests in this whale of a […]

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honour match

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