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Clues, code-breaking, and cruciverbalists: the language of crosswords

The recent release of The Imitation Game has revealed the important role crosswords played in the recruitment of code-breakers at Bletchley Park. In response to complaints that its crosswords were too easy, The Daily Telegraph organised a contest in which entrants attempted to solve a puzzle in less than 12 minutes. Successful competitors subsequently found […]

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Word in the news: frit

Recently on the OxfordDictionaries.com homepage you may have noticed that you can now see that day’s top ten most popular words on the site, in various regions around the world. Although it is not always possible to tell why a word is on there, sometimes the reasons behind their appearance can seem obvious. Just after […]

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How do we decide which words to include in our children’s dictionaries?

Compiling a small dictionary for children is never easy – so many words competing for space in a book with a finite number of pages. Animals and plants, clothing, fruits and vegetables, musical instruments, body parts, animal noises … the list is endless. They can’t all go in. We know that, but it’s still painful […]

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5 things you can do with the Historical Thesaurus of the OED

The Historical Thesaurus of the OED is a unique resource charting the semantic development of the huge and varied vocabulary of English. It is the first comprehensive historical thesaurus ever produced for any language, and contains almost every word in English from Old English to the present day. With 800,000 words and meanings, in 235,000 entry categories, the […]

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Do gay people speak their own language? A linguistic look at Polari

Nellyarda, zhoosh the riah, titivate, schlumph your Vera down, and palare that omee for the bevvies because I’ve nanti dinarli. (Translation: Listen, style your hair, make yourself look pretty, drink up your gin, and talk to that man to get a drink because I’m skint). The words you’ve just read are Polari words. Polari encompasses […]

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Interview: Korean-American poet Rosanna Oh

In 2005, Congress declared January 13 Korean American Day, in commemoration of the 1903 arrival of 102 immigrants, among the very first Koreans to arrive in the US. Rosanna Oh, a young writer and Korean American, graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2012 with an MFA in poetry. Her work has been featured in Unsplendid, Measure, […]

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Tweens, teens, and twentysomethings: a history of words for young people

In August 2010, the cover of the New York Times Magazine half-wondered, half-complained to the world, “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” The article was a splashy survey of research being conducted by psychology professor Jeffrey Arnett into what he called “emerging adulthood”—better known as “your twenties.” […]

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Onolatry - Worship of the donkey or ass, onolatry has also come to refer in extended use to “excessive admiration for or devotion to foolishness or a foolish thing.”

Beyond basic idolatry: other forms of worship

Rejected by several of the world’s religions, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, idolatry refers to the practice of worshiping an image or representation of a god rather than the true god. Many are probably familiar with idolatry due to its inclusion in the Ten Commandments, which state that a believer should not make an image […]

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