two solitudes

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50 Shades

The OED’s Fifty Shades of Grey

With the release of the much-anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey on 13 February, we thought that it might be time to take a look in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and see how many shades of grey we could dig up. As it turns out, the OED gives EL […]

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Join our Valentine’s Day competition and win an iPad Air 2!

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so we thought we could show you some love too! Answer the following question to get the chance to win a brand new 64GB iPad Air 2: THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. Entries must be submitted with the entrant’s name and address via the form below. Closing date for the competition is […]

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diplodocus

WordWatch roundup: comprise, blonde, diplodocus, and horror vacui

This series investigates changes in lookups for words and their meanings across OxfordDictionaries.com. The graphs are based on website data collected over a four-week period, and the accompanying commentary explores how news and other current events have influenced these word trends and sudden peaks in interest. comprise, verb > blonde, adjective < > diplodocus, noun […]

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From sugar to sweetheart: a timeline of terms of endearment

The English language is filled with a wild assortment of romantic endearments, ranging from the old and obvious, such as sweetheart, to the entirely unexpected, such as flitter-mouse, an archaic term for a bat. In fact, bats are one of several animals that make an appearance, along with ducks, cats, doves, and turtles (and turtle-doves). […]

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The curious case of culprit

Amnesia, disguises, and mistaken identities? No, these are not the plot twists of a blockbuster thriller or bestselling page-turner. They are the story of the word culprit.   At first glance, the origin of culprit looks simple enough. Mea culpa, culpable, exculpate, and the more obscure inculpate: these words come from the Latin culpa, “fault” or “blame.” One would suspect that culprit is the same, yet we should never be […]

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10 inventions named after people

Inventors’ Day is celebrated on different days in many countries to recognize the contributions of inventors. In the US, the event falls on 11 February – the anniversary of Thomas Edison’s birth. We would like to take this occasion to explore the linguistic contributions of inventors to the English language. Browse our list below to […]

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light_large

Light, bright, and sparkling: the language of light

The UN has declared 2015 to be the ‘International Year of Light’, so we thought that was a good opportunity to look at the language of light. Unsurprisingly, light is a very old word. It appears at the beginning of one of the oldest texts in English – Aelfric’s translation of Genesis – in the […]

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