false friends

False Friends between English and Spanish

Building a bridge between two languages is a very demanding undertaking, and ‘false friends’ make it harder still. False friends are more commonly known as ‘false cognates’, or words that are similar or identical in both languages but which convey a different meaning. They give us a false sense of security before leading us astray. […]

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Video: ‘may’ or ‘might’

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Murray Garden Party_OUP Archives

A letter from Dr Murray: commemorating the centenary of Murray’s death

26 July 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. To commemorate this centenary, we are reproducing an autobiographical letter Murray wrote in 1903. You can also discover more about Murray’s life in an occasional series of articles about Murray’s life which we are […]

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Alice book

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WordWatch roundup: minion, Kuiper belt, derecho, and Eid

minion The spike in lookups of the word minion – ‘a follower or underling of a powerful person, especially a servile or unimportant one’ – should surprise no one, given that the film Minions entered theaters a few weeks ago. The pill-shaped film ‘minions’, speaking a gibberish language and about the size of fire hydrants, […]

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Legislation meets lexicography: the campaign for dictionary recognition of the word ‘upstander’

Oxford University Press frequently receives requests from members of the public to add a particular word to our dictionaries, but an official legislative resolution supporting a word’s inclusion may be unprecedented. Nonetheless, that is what happened on June 29, 2015, when the New Jersey State Senate approved a resolution “urging Merriam-Webster, Inc. and the Oxford […]

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Coleridge’s way with words

Why should we commemorate Coleridge’s death date, July 25? The obvious reason is his high status as a poet, but a better one might be his exuberance as a wordsmith. As a poet, after all, he is widely known for only two relatively short works, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Kubla Khan’. While […]

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OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word ‘email’?

Can you help us? OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, […]

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