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

Ka-ching – all you need is money

Ka-ching – all you need is money

David Mamet once wrote “Everyone needs money – that’s why they call it money”, although he wrote this in a screenplay, and so the words were uttered by a fictional character. Even though this quote of Mamet’s is not overburdened with clarity, it is amusing, and serves as a useful reminder to look at some […]

Verily, this tomfoolery must be quashed!

Verily, this tomfoolery must be quashed!

‘Cripes! What bally tomfoolery are those diabolical cads in the media coming up with now?’ I asked my betrothed, when confronted with a spate of recent news reports. ‘Verily, I must quash this balderdash forthwith.’ Had I perhaps been hit on the head with the King James Bible or been immersed for a year in […]

Read more »
thunder

Why do we talk about stealing someone’s thunder?

This idiom, defined as using the ideas devised by another person for your own advantage, has a gratifyingly literal story behind it. It is quite rare for etymologists to pinpoint the very first use of a word or phrase. In this case, however, the eighteenth-century actor and playwright Colley Cibber, in his Lives of the […]

Read more »

Slactivism, dadrock, and bibimbap: ODO quarterly update November 2011

ODO quarterly update November 2011

This year’s momentous events have had an impact on the new additions to our online dictionary. Arab Spring, describing the series of anti-government uprisings in various countries in North Africa and the Middle East, is now included, as well as phone hacking, the scandal which caused a storm in the UK that reverberated all the […]

How to amuse friends and bamboozle people without even knowing it – reflections of a Scot down south

Reflections of a Scot down south

When people ask where I am from, the answer “Scotland” is not what they are expecting – that much is evident from my accent, which I haven’t lost after 14 years down south. For the most part, people find it easy enough to understand me – my Scots brogue isn’t all that impenetrable. Yet on […]

What were the most-viewed words in Oxford Dictionaries Online last month?

Search monitor

Well, you certainly had a comprehensive rummage through our free online dictionary last month, rooting out less common words, such as obstreperous and egregious, while also taking a closer look at some everyday essentials including run, get, and take. Whether you were looking up words which can be tricky to spell, such as achieve, definitely, […]

Oyez, oyez, oyez! Garner’s Dictionary of Legal Usage

Oyez, oyez, oyez!

Legal English is not just for the legally-minded. It can be arcane, yes, but it’s certainly not irrelevant – whether we’re agreeing a mortgage, reading about changes to the law, or (tut, tut) standing as a defendant in a trial, legal language is not something we can easily ignore. But it is still arcane – […]

Read more »
prepositions

Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?

Stranded prepositions are nothing to fret about There are numerous myths relating to grammatical dos and don’ts, many of which were drummed into us at school. The one that stubbornly refuses to budge from my mind is the diktat ‘never begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and or but’. And why not, pray?* […]

Read more »

Tweets