Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

pup

Quiz: can you guess the palindrome?

A palindrome is a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backwards as forwards (e.g. madam or nurses run). The term originated in the early 17th century and is derived from Greek palindromos which translates to ‘running back again’. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest single word palindrome is saippuakivikauppias, […]

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tennis

Video: anyone for tennis? Oxford Dictionaries staff tackle tennis terms

In the last OxfordDictionaries.com update, we added new words like binge-watch, side-eye, and amazeballs. At the Connecticut Open, Nick McCarvel asked various tennis stars including Caroline Wozniacki and Genie Bouchard if they knew what these words meant, and we think they did a pretty great job with the answers (which you can see in the […]

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Sheet Music

Foreign words and musical notes

Anyone who’s ever had to learn to read sheet music will know what I mean when I say that it can sometimes literally be like learning another language. Besides parsing those tricky lines, dots, tails, and bars, there are also the snatches of foreign languages – mostly Italian, along with the occasional word of French, […]

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beer bottles

Suds or brewskis? American beer slang

What goes best with the crunchy leaves and azure skies of early fall? Beer, of course! Though this year’s Oktoberfest unfortunately came to an end yesterday in Munich, we’re not ready to stop talking about beer. After checking out our map of European beers, you might be interested to know what beer culture is like on the […]

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What do you call a baby rabbit, and other baby animals?

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Happy faces

Smiles for World Smile Day

You may be familiar with that old joke: what is the longest word in the English language? Smiles – there is a mile between s and s! Well, those of us in the know would cite the supposed lung disease pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis as the longest word in English, and that certainly isn’t something to smile about. […]

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Alleyways

Alleyways of language: regional words for ‘alleyway’

In these times of mass media and global communications, it is comforting to think that regional lexical variation in British English is alive and well—in fact it seems to be right up many people’s alley. When linguists set out to collect distinctive local vocabulary, one of the classic questions informants are asked is “What do […]

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British English quiz

Quiz: how good is your British English?

If you’re an English speaker and have spent any time in an English-speaking country not your own, you know how different the language can be. Sometimes the differences are slight – for example, the stress on different syllables of weekend between British and American English (wiːkˈɛnd vs. ‘wēkˌend, respectively) – but sometimes the differences are […]

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