Reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter A

Reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter A

In the first of an occasional series, guest blogger Nikki talks us through her ongoing project to read every word in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. A bookmark holds my place in the largest book I have ever attempted to read – a behemoth weighing in at 4.6 pounds. It looks odd with the braid hanging […]

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A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries.

5 surprising origins of common bird names

A large number of birds received their names through the imitation of their cries. The cuckoo is an obvious example of such an onomatopoeic naming, and so are the owl, the cockatiel, and many more. Some bird names, however, have a more intriguing linguistic history. Here we take a look at a few examples. Magpie […]

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dumpster fire

Out of the hot mess and into the dumpster fire?

If there’s one thing that can be said for the times we live in, it’s that it has been an unusually fruitful era when it comes to words to refer to a catastrophe. The first decade of the twenty-first century brought phrases like epic fail and hot mess to prominence, and now here in the […]

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Video: bring or take?

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political catchphrases and nicknames

What’s in a nickname? Lyin’ Ted, L’il Marco, and the art of the political catchphrase

The US Presidential race is taking yet another twist in its long road to the White House this week, as voters in Indiana head to the polls for their primary contest. The race to become a party’s nominee is usually all but settled by this time of year, but in 2016, at least on the […]

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Is a zebra a horse?

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phrases with run

6 ‘run’ phrases you probably don’t know

The word run might mean many different things to you. Personally, it makes me figuratively run for the hills, such is my feeling about exercise. Run might also make a lexicographer blanch; it is a strong contestant for the verb with the most meanings, at over 650 (this of course includes phrases and phrasal verbs). […]

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name origins

8 names that were invented by authors

Let’s have a look at authors whose creations were influential outside of their literary traditions – specifically, at the names they have coined or popularized. You knew that Shakespeare has had, you know, a fairly large impact on the English language, but you might be surprised to learn that he’s made a surprising contribution to […]

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