Mars: A lexicographer's perspective

Mars: A lexicographer’s perspective

The planet Mars might initially seem an odd choice for Place of the Year. It has hardly any atmosphere and is more or less geologically inactive, meaning that it has remained essentially unchanged for millions of years. 2012 isn’t much different from one million BC as far as Mars is concerned. However, here on Earth, […]

German Christmas traditions: the Krampus

German holiday traditions: the Krampus

I’m sick of Santa. It’s not natural for anyone to be that cherry-cheeked and cheerily cherubic. Frankly, it’s irritating to be flanked by images of a huge, excessively jolly man when you’ve been standing in line for four hours trying to buy presents. So how about an ersatz holiday representative for this year’s Christmastide? How […]

The Christmas Table

The Christmas table

Described by John Ayto as ‘steaming fragrant black cannonballs’ in his newly published The Diner’s Dictionary, it is not hard to see why Christmas pudding is a luxury afforded only once a year. The rich combination of suet, raisins, currants, spices, eggs, and brandy often leaves diners in a food-induced stupor at the end of […]

Cake

Let them eat cake! Twelve facts about cake

Cake, in one form or another, has been around for centuries. From its humble beginnings as a flattened, hardened bread, the concept of ‘cake’ has changed significantly to become an essential part of British culinary identity. Here at Oxford Dictionaries, we love a bit of etymology to go with our cake, and today we share […]

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What were your top dictionary look-ups of the last three months?

What were your top dictionary lookups of the last three months?

Every so often, as part of our search monitor series, we take a look at the most looked-up words on Oxford Dictionaries Online over a certain period. Here, our list spans August to October of this year to show you which were the most popular words of the last few months. Hella ridic new lookups […]

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Collecting my thoughts on collecting

Collecting my thoughts on collecting

While enjoying a recent browse at one of my favorite antique stores, I stopped to admire a display of thimbles. I have no personal interest in thimbles, but I was for several minutes entranced by them. Arranged on a velvet-lined shelf and locked inside a glass case, they left me a tad breathless. Not quite […]

A Very Short Introduction to English Literature: text analyser

A Very Short Introduction to English Literature: text analyser

Explore the text of English Literature: A Very Short Introduction, by Jonathan Bate. In this text analyser you can explore the ways in which Bate covers different types of literature, poetry, and novels. The frequency of the words found in Bate’s fascinating book will not come as a surprise, but key words such as ‘Shakespeare’ […]

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Rigger-jiggers, feathers, and crabs: the language of rowing

Rigger-jiggers, feathers, and crabs: the language of rowing

Every November Oxford’s Isis river is overrun with novice crews and coxes trying to win their first race, the Christ Church Regatta. Rowing is a huge part of student life here, underlined rather explicitly in this apt quotation which features in the entry for rowing in the Oxford English Dictionary: “Rowing was more than a […]

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