sixties TV

16 words from the 1960s

As the television show Mad Men draws to a close, we thought it might be fun to reflect on the contributions to language made by the turbulent decade of the 1960s. The legacy of the 1960s on language is not surprising, given the huge shifts in culture, including the Civil Rights movement, the apex of […]

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fishing trawler

What is the difference between ‘trolling’ and ‘trawling’?

Are you ‘trawling through’ or ‘trolling through’ that online archive? Did you have a successful ‘trawl’ or ‘troll’ of that dictionary? It’s easy to understand why these words are often confused: not only do they sound similar (trOHl and trAWl), but both are loose synonyms for search. Trawl typically means to ‘sift through as part […]

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antlers

OED appeals: can you help us find earlier evidence of the word jackalope?

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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graduation

How to write a great graduation speech

It’s graduation time at many of the nation’s schools and colleges. The commencement ceremony is a great exhalation for all involved and an annual rite of passage celebrating academic achievements. Commencement ceremonies typically feature a visiting dignitary who offers a few thousand inspirational words. Over the years, I’ve heard more of these speeches than I […]

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light bulbs

6 punctuation marks you might be using incorrectly

Punctuation is the art of clarifying how a group of words falls together into contractions, clauses, and sentences. Unfortunately, it is not at all clear how some punctuation marks should be used! Let’s take a look at several popular, though confusing, punctuation marks. Even if you think you’ve got the topic all sewn up, it’s […]

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Yogi Berra

‘Yogi-isms’: the wisdom and wit of Yogi Berra

What is it that we love so much about the oft-quoted sayings of Yogi Berra? Of all the wisdom that has been handed down from America’s pastime over the past century, none of it

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calendar

Vocabulary quiz: how well do you know April’s Words of the Day?

Have you paid attention to April’s Words of the Day? Take the quiz to find out if you can match the words with the correct definitions. Not yet signed up to our free Word of the Day service? Click here to receive your daily word. 

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global english

The rise of global English

‘Globish’ is not my word. In the best traditions of the English language, I borrowed it from a Frenchman who first coined it in 1995. Jean-Paul Nerriere was a senior executive with IBM. Posted to Japan in the 1990s, he made one simple, but brilliant, observation. In his work for IBM, Nerriere noticed in meetings […]

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