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

new words

Beyond the dictionary: the stories behind some of Oxford’s latest additions

cray The word cray, shortened for crazy, seems to have arisen in the early 2000s. It originally appeared in the reduplicated form cray cray, which appeared on Urban Dictionary as early as 2002. By the end of the decade, cray cray had been widely adopted in the language of the American blogosphere, as in this […]

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Oxford Dictionaries August update

Adorbs new words added to OxfordDictionaries.com – WDYT?

We don’t mean to humblebrag, but the August update to OxfordDictionaries.com is bare good and nailed on to interest and impress you. Throw an air punch or have a bro hug (don’t be cray and throw shade or show us the side-eye); be a baller and join the hyperconnected vocabulary fandom and read on to […]

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geekfest

Finding geeky words at Nine Worlds

Catherine Sangster is head of pronunciation for Oxford Dictionaries. This week she went to Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014 to talk about conlangs, host a dictionary corner, and generally get her geek on. Nine Worlds is a London-based event which embraces a broad spectrum of geekery and makes a particular effort to bring groups which are […]

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bangarang

Words in the news: bangarang

You may have heard the word bangarang in the tribute paid to Robin Williams by US President Barack Obama, after the sad news of Williams’ death yesterday, and wondered what it means. Barack Obama said that “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, […]

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arabic

Fun with words or why I love Arabic

‘Somebody once said that every Arabic word means itself, its opposite or a camel.’  The professor I was trying to impress threw cold water on this vision of the language I had chosen to study: ‘Very funny, but not true’. Sigh. I owed the quote to Tim Mackintosh-Smith, Arabist and travel-writer known as the sage […]

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language identity

Does learning a second language lead to a new identity?

Every day I get asked why second language learning is so hard and what can be done to make it easier. One day a student came up to me after class and asked me how his mother could learn to speak English better. She did not seem to be able to break through and start […]

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Lazy bear

Quisby, lollop, and other names for a lazy person

Today, to celebrate Lazy Day, we wanted to share some of the many synonyms for ‘lazy’ from our Historical Thesaurus. From the fashionably lazy lounge lizard to the idle slouch, you’ll find plenty of terms to confess your laziness. Maybe you are feeling like a couch potato who favours lounging in front of the TV […]

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football redskins

What is the definition of redskin?

What is the definition of redskin? This week Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder told ESPN, “Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride.” The reclamation of the word — often seen as a derogatory to Native Americans — has become a major […]

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