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

Plain English in practice: writing instructions

Plain English in practice: writing instructions

In a previous piece, I looked at some guidelines for writing plain Engl­­­ish: that is, the kind of English that will get your intended meaning across most clearly. Here, I take you through an example. Warning: Instructions may contain lethal sesquipedalian lexemes There are times when clear writing can make the difference between life and […]

All about the weather

All about the weather

As was noted here a few weeks back, there are a variety of regional words to choose from when describing the weather in the UK. Many of these words are, unsurprisingly, related to different kinds of rain. Here in the US we also have a healthy crop of regionalisms with which to describe our inclement weather, […]

Grexit, Spanic, and clown: July 2012 on the radar

Grexit, Spanic, and clown: July 2012 on the radar

Each month we reflect on some of the new words Oxford’s lexicography team has been tracking—words that are being used in English but are not yet sufficiently established for inclusion in our dictionaries. Would-be words of the eurozone crisis The Eurozone economic crisis which has dominated headlines this summer has yielded a bumper crop of […]

Interactive etymology quiz

Interactive etymology quiz

How much do you really know about where your vocabulary comes from? Do you know your Latin roots from your Greek ones? How about Japanese from Cantonese? Hebrew from Hawaiian? Test your knowledge in our interactive etymology quiz and find out if you are a student, an amateur or an expert etymologist. Etymologies Quiz Game […]

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Of chanceless innings and textbook shots: the language of cricket and what it says about the game

Of chanceless innings and textbook shots - the language of cricket and what it says about the game

Wickets and dropped catches Cricket absolutely confounds my wife; she simply can’t get to grips with it. I’ve tried my best to explain it to her but I stumble the moment terms like wicket and over get mentioned. Coming home on Sunday evenings and telling her how I’ve played is at best a comedy show […]

Paperback Oxford English Dictionary photography competition results

Paperback Oxford English Dictionary Photography Competition

We recently set our readers the challenge of taking a photo to capture the word ‘harmony’ to celebrate the publication of the new edition of the Paperback Oxford English Dictionary. We are delighted by the response with over 100 entries and some truly excellent photographs encapsulating our theme perfectly. Before announcing our winner let’s explore […]

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream: a short history of our favourite summer food

I scream, you scream!

Ice cream, one of the most spectacularly successful of all the foods based on dairy products, has a comparatively short history. The first ice creams, in the sense of an iced and flavoured confection made from full milk or cream, are thought to have been made in Italy and then in France in the 17th […]

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Okey-dokey! The story of the birth of OK’s playful grandchild

Okey-dokey! The story of the birth of OK’s playful grandchild

By the early twentieth century, OK was no longer a joke. The letters O and K did not prompt memories of the misspelled oll korrect, nor did they stimulate alternative explanations. In the nineteenth century, OK was recognized as a humorous abbreviation, but in the twentieth, it was understood merely as an arbitrary combination of […]

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