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

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Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013: runners-up

Earlier today, we announced that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013 is ‘selfie’. You can learn more about the rise of ‘selfie’ with our infographic. But what about the runners-up? Below we take a closer look at the words on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 shortlist, from ‘bedroom tax’ […]

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WOTY announcement

Infographic: a closer look at ‘selfie’

Earlier today we announced that the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013 is ‘selfie’. Explore the infographic below to learn more about this year’s Word of the Year and track its evolution from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph. Click on the image below to see a larger […]

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selfie blacknwhite

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is…

It’s that time of the year again. With a fanfare and a drum roll, it’s time to announce the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. The votes have been counted and verified and I can exclusively reveal that the winner is…. selfie A picture can paint a thousand words The decision was unanimous this year, […]

What the Romans did for us: English words of Latin origin

Latin

An extract from the Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins As well as education, wine, roads, under-floor heating, and the fresh water system, the Romans gave us words and phrases. Far from being a dead language, Latin is alive and well, and may be found in a sentence near you. English is full of words of […]

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Functional-shifty characters: what’s wrong with this verb?

Loathsome. Wretched. Horrible. These were the words used on a recent Twitter debate about a new usage. If it had gone on much longer, people would doubtless have weighed in with the other heavy hitters of language criticism: Clumsy! Infelicitous! Abomination! Why or how these new usages merit such opprobrium is never explained objectively. After […]

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Why did Tolkien use archaic language?

All words have life cycles. They are born, sometimes by a specific individual at a recorded moment, as was the case with grotty. The current first citation in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is from the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, in which George Harrison utters the word in response to some shirts. ‘I […]

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Interview with John Simpson, former Chief Editor of the OED

OED JS cake

John Simpson recently retired as chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Before he left, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his time at the helm of our historical dictionary. Watch the videos below to learn how life at the OED has changed since John Simpson joined in 1976, […]

Quiz: Bob Dylan or Dylan Thomas?

Dylan Thomas or Bob Dylan.jpg

Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan: what else do the Welsh poet and American singer-songwriter have in common besides their names? A lot more than you’d think. A tale of two Dylans It is often remarked that Bob Dylan credits Dylan Thomas as an influence. As we’ve noted in a previous post, they share thematic interests—both […]

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