Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Feelin’ “aight”?

Feelin' "aight"?

In the early 90s hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh released a single called “I-Ight (Alright)”. The song wasn’t what you’d call a smash hit, but I mention it today because the editors of the OED have just put its namesake aight into the dictionary. Looking at the entry, it seems that Mr. Fresh was a bit of a lexical trail-blazer in […]

Invented languages

Invented languages

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo ‘a star shines on the hour of our meeting’ This is Frodo the hobbit’s greeting in High Elvish, or Quenya, to the Elf Gildor (The Lord of the Rings, book I, chapter iii)—perhaps the most celebrated utterance in an invented language, and arguably one of the most beautiful, both phonetically and […]

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A soul of fire: celebrating Samuel Johnson

A soul of fire: celebrating Samuel Johnson

September 18 marks the anniversary of the birthday of Samuel Johnson. Although he wrote a number of works, he is arguably best known for the 1755 publication A Dictionary of the English Language. While it was by no means the first ever dictionary published, its influence was remarkable, not least upon the dictionary which would […]

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

Monday, September 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which spawned a movement that spread from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to public spaces around the US, the UK, and the world. Although the Wall Street encampment was cleared out only two months later, it had already left a mark on the […]

From sock puppets to astroturfing: the language of online deception

From sock puppets to astroturfing: the language of online deception

Who am I? It’s a question I often ask myself when waking up. This isn’t (to my knowledge) because I’m trapped in a high-concept thriller when my brain is wiped every night when I fall asleep. It’s more because I’m not really a morning person. Personal identity is not just a problem for me before […]

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chocolate

Ten facts about the word ‘chocolate’

On 13 September we celebrate the birthday of arguably one of the most famous producers of chocolate in history. Milton Hershey, who was born 155 years ago today, opened the doors of his US chocolate factory in 1900, and his chocolate bars and kisses came onto the market shortly thereafter. But where did chocolate, as […]

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Java, C, and Python: the etymology of programming languages

Java, C, and Python: the etymology of programming languages

As a software developer for most of my adult life, I have a CV that is covered in acronyms and initialisms representing technologies I have mastered. Well, to be more honest, some technologies I have mastered, others I have used a lot, and a few I’ve had brief exposure to but which look good on […]

Jane or Jones?

Jane or Jones  OxfordWords blog - Google Chrome_2012-09-10_13-57-55

Jane Austen’s novels and letters are frequently cited in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), putting her work currently as the 253rd most frequently quoted source in the OED, with a total of 1,620 quotations. Of these quotations, 44 currently provide the very first evidence of a particular word, including the adjective ‘fragmented’ (from Northanger Abbey: […]

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