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

The whole kitten caboodle

The whole kitten caboodle

Today is Brigitte Bardot‘s birthday. Joyeux anniversaire, BB! The former French film actress caused a sensation in 1956 when she appeared in And God Created Woman, the film that established her reputation as an international sex symbol. Her first scene finds her sunbathing in the nude – in her birthday suit, as it were. In […]

Green on blue, unboxing, and brass: on the radar in September 2012

On the radar: September 2012

The origin of green on blue The phrase green on blue has been used with tragic frequency in recent weeks to describe attacks by Afghan soldiers on Coalition troops in Afghanistan. Green on blue is modeled after an earlier phrase, blue on blue, referring to inadvertent clashes between members of the same side in an […]

A heap of broken images: the varied voices of T. S. Eliot

A heap of broken images: the varied voices of T.S. Eliot

Today, September 26th, is the 124th anniversary of the birth of the poet, playwright, and critic T. S. Eliot. Apart from being one of the twentieth century’s most important writers, Eliot is, more importantly, one of my top-five favourite poets of all time. He is a poet of language, a poet of many voices, and today […]

Oktoberfest: mapping the beers of Europe

Oktoberfest: mapping the beers of Europe

How many styles of beer can you name? Or for those old enough to do so legally, how many have you tasted? According to the Oxford Companion to Beer, there are well over 100 styles from all over the world. With the start of Oktoberfest, the annual German festival with a tradition of celebrating all […]

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Pleb or snob?

Pleb or snob?

An altercation between a politician and some policemen featured heavily in the UK press this week and prompted thousands of extra hits on the Oxford Dictionaries definition of ‘pleb’: Plebeian first appeared in English in 1533 with reference to Roman history, meaning ‘a Roman commoner’, or ‘a member of the plebs’. The plebs were the […]

O’zapft is! 18 essential German words and phrases for Oktoberfest

O'zapft is! Gearing up for Oktoberfest

From 22nd of September, millions of people will travel to Munich, like every year, to attend the world’s largest fair. Until the 7th of October, Munich will once again be hosting the Oktoberfest, which boasts a long tradition. It first took place in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese […]

Obrigado! Takk! Di ou mèsi! Celebrating World Gratitude Day across time and language

gratitude map

How many ways can we say ‘thank you’? In English alone, there are plenty. The Oxford English Dictionary first cites the simplest, thanks, in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1598. The OED also treats us to some oldies (gramercy [c. 1330], thank thee [1631], thankee [1824]) and contextualizes some goodies (British colloquialism cheers stumbled out […]

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The love that doesn’t quite know how to speak its name: the nomenclature of bisexuality

The love that doesn’t quite know how to speak its name: the nomenclature of bisexuality

In the first of our new opinion columns, Bonnie Kneen looks at the problems surrounding the word ‘bisexual’, and the power of language to make visible – or erase. *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 23 September is Bi Visibility/Celebrate Bisexuality […]

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