new chemical elements names

How do new elements get named?

It is highly unusual for words to become the subject of avid discussion—and even of consideration by lexicographers—before they have even been coined! This is the curious situation at present in the world of science, where the announcement of four new chemical elements has created something of a stir. They can now take a permanent […]

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Video: ‘that’ or ‘which’?

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Quiz: Shakespeare and sex

Quiz: Shakespeare and sex

Look, we all remember the days when you’d read something saucy in Shakespeare and snigger to yourself in the classroom. We can all be mature about this, and admit that the Bard could be bawdy: there is plenty of sex in Shakespeare. But who said what? We’ve taken some of Shakespeare’s more notorious quotations about […]

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football team names

The origins of British football team names

Where do British football (or soccer) clubs get their names? The answer may seem straightforward enough, since most clubs are named after the city in which they play: Manchester City, Southampton, Liverpool. But there are exceptions, such as Arsenal, named after the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, whose workers formed the club in 1886. The Royal […]

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Martin Sheen's character in the West Wing, President Jed Bartlet, has a notable example of Hollywood Latin

Although certain Latin words and phrases have been accepted wholesale into English – think of de facto, per capita, magnum opus, etc. (et cetera is another one!) – Latin is still capable of providing a certain gloss to a statement. When a politician talks about the vox populi rather than the ‘voice of the people’ […]

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on fleek

Video: adding on fleek to Oxford Dictionaries

You might remember that on fleek was on the shortlist for Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015, and both fleek and on fleek were added to OxfordDictionaries.com last year, meaning ‘extremely good, attractive, or stylish’. It offers great examples of the challenges and opportunities for lexicographers looking at digital communication and new viral slang, as Oxford Dictionaries lexicographer Katherine […]

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London tube names

London Underground: the origins of some unusual names

Have you ever wondered how some of the more unusual sounding tube stops in London got their name? Taking a look at the origins of London Underground stations’ names is, of course, pretty much the same as exploring the origins of place names: almost all of them are named after the areas they serve. Locals […]

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Have a look at some of the best-known New York City words

The words of New York City

The City that Never Sleeps! Gotham! The Big Apple! The Capital of the World! The Five Boroughs! The City So Nice They Named It Twice! New York City is a city of not just many nicknames, but also of words and phrases. As not only one of the world’s major financial centers, but also a […]

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