emoji language

Beyond words: how language-like is emoji?

The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking for many, brands the decision ‘ridiculous’ — after all, an emoji is, self-evidently, not a word; so the wagging fingers seem to […]

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‘License’ or ‘licence’: what’s the difference?

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Quiz: quotation or misquotation?

“I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.” So said the gentleman detective Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L Sayers’ Have His Carcase (1932) – providing us with a handy quotation. But before you start believing everything you hear, make sure you know whether or not a quotation was actually said. […]

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Bond villain Blofeld and his cat

11 acronyms that are actually ‘backronyms’

Everyone knows what an acronym is – an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, like ‘NASA’ or ‘NATO’ – but not all know what a ‘backronym’ is. While acronyms are formed from phrases or names that exist beforehand, a backronym is an acronym deliberately created to suit […]

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WOTY emoji banner

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is…

That’s right – for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is a pictograph: 😂, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji, though you may know it by other names. There were other strong contenders from a range of fields, outlined below, but 😂 was chosen as the ‘word’ that […]

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lumbersexual shortlist

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015: the shortlist

In addition to the Word of the Year itself, Oxford Dictionaries staff have put together a shortlist of notable words that have gained linguistic currency during 2015. These range across a variety of subjects, from global politics and current affairs, to technology and popular culture. Here is a closer look at those words, in alphabetical […]

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Robert Louis Stevenson

7 language facts you didn’t know about Robert Louis Stevenson

Edinburgh-born writer Robert Louis Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 18 December 1894) is famous all over the world for his wondrous and inventive use of language. But what are some of the specific ways in which he related to words, in his works and working life? The Teller of Tales Stevenson lived the last few […]

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9 words to use instead of ‘toilet’

Lavatory, privy, loo – we’re not exactly lacking synonyms for toilet in everyday language. Still, we thought it might be fun to dig out a few of the more obscure and curious ones that have been used throughout the ages. House of Lords House of Lords has been around as a cheeky slang term for […]

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