From muggle to whizzpopper: invented words in children’s literature

When Roald Dahl invented words such as lickswishy, which describes the way English boys taste to giants in The BFG (1982), and whizzpoppers, the enjoyable propelling farts produced by the same giants after they drink frobskottle, he was following in a tradition among children’s writers of coining neologisms that dates back at least as far […]

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The day JFK did NOT call himself a jam doughnut

On the (in)significance of the indefinite article Earlier this month, on 9 November, Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (initially called antifaschistischer Schutzwall, or ‘anti-fascist protective barrier’) in 1989; a momentous occasion in German history and a crucial milestone hailing the end of the GDR, which had been founded […]

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vapor smoke

Timeline: smoke to vape – tobacco over time

Long before Europeans arrived in the Americas, tobacco was part of the culture of many Native American tribes. These tribes had many different uses for the plant, ranging from recreational and ceremonial use to the plant’s use in various medical capacities, in particular as a painkiller. The American origins of the plant can still be […]

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Quiz: can you match the Word of the Year to the year?

Are you an expert on word trends? Every year, the Oxford Dictionaries editors select one word that they feel reflects “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year” to award it with the ‘Word of the Year’ title. Over the years, the UK and US editorial teams have often chosen a different Word of […]

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love words

What do we love about new words?

The lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries keep watch on our collective neology and select a word—or words–of the year: a word that is both forward-looking and reflects the culture of the current year. From 2004 we’ve had chav, podcast, carbon-neutral, locavore, hypermiling, unfriend, refudiate, squeezed middle, the verb GIF, and selfie. And in the UK, which […]

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Video: Word of the Year… what would you choose?

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Quadrocopter drone flying in the sky

Conscious uncoupling, smugshrug, and parcelcopter: blips on our radar in 2014

Yesterday the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year was revealed to be vape, and we also explored the shortlist. Over the course of 2014, Oxford’s lexicographers identified dozens of newly coined or newly prominent words as potential Words of the Year. Last year’s decision of selfie was nearly unanimous, but such a clear choice is […]

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Video: why ‘vape’ was chosen for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014

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