Why learn Arabic?

Why learn Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary (in print and online), the Chief Editor, Tressy Arts, explains why she decided to become an Arabist… When I tell people I’m an Arabist, they often look at me like they’re waiting for the punchline. Some confuse it with aerobics and look at me dubiously […]

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Stock market report with bull and bear

Bulls, bears, and the other business animals of Wall Street

The finance world famously has almost a language all of its own, ranging from complex financial jargon to the playful slang of the stock market. What that means is that within the thicket of terms like VaR, backwardation, contango, tranche, and junk bond, we find some familiar animal friends — although often in some strange […]

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Swift Swift

Quiz: Taylor Swift or Jonathan Swift?

As Taylor Swift’s music video for her single “Shake It Off” goes viral, one question coming up on the Internet over and over again is whether or not it succeeds as a satire. Having previously received criticism about her dancing skills, the video follows Swift as she attempts ballet, break-dance, contemporary dance, rhythmic gymnastics, cheerleading, […]

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compound nouns

Cupboards and bro hugs: investigating compound words

The new words update for August is out, and some of you might have noticed that a few of the new words look suspiciously like there are two of them (I’m looking at you, air punch, bro hug, and spit take). That’s because, in dictionary terms, a word is something that conveys a single unit of […]

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Poe and Lovecraft

The inventive words and worlds of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft

To celebrate this week’s birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, one of Gothic horror’s most acclaimed authors, here is a brief look into the contributions H.P. Lovecraft and fellow Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe have made to the English language. Poe’s words Though Edgar Allan Poe, the progenitor of the modern day horror genre (across all mediums), […]

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Clichés

Quiz: how well do you know your clichés?

When we think of clichés, we often think of a phrase that is trite and hackneyed, a person who stereotypically conforms to social constructs and labels, or something that is predictable and lacks ingenuity. The word cliché is of French origin, and originally meant a stereotype block bearing text that was used to produce multiple […]

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chess

The language of chess

Although the game itself may be viewed as the domain of grandmasters, child geniuses, and computer boffins, the language of chess has infiltrated everyday parlance in a number of ways. Any game or debate that ends in a draw may be said to have resulted in a stalemate, while check can refer to any form of […]

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money coins

How did bread, cheese, and dough come to mean money?

Back in the day, the hip-hop duo OutKast released a song called “Aquemini” that goes: Street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts, you know, how to work the bread, cheese, and dough from scratch This is a little André wordplay, talking about hustlers out to earn their pay. When I heard this and clocked the […]

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