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Heists and mayhem: the language of crime

There has been a lot on British minds recently, with horsemeat and obesity coming high on the list of preoccupations. But amid the furore over such unpalatable subjects, it was a different headline altogether that caught my eye. ‘Diamond heist at Brussels airport nets gang up to £30m in gems’, was the Guardian’s version, while […]

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How well do you speak money?

When the US Congress passed the original National Currency Act on February 25, 1863, a single currency for the United States of America was established for the first time. This momentous event not only brought the nation together economically, it also ushered in completely new and dynamic ways to talk about money. The Oxford English […]

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Braggadocious? Never. Just excited about the Oxford Dictionaries February 2013 update!

Braggadocious? Never. Just excited about the Oxford Dictionaries February 2013 update!

“Having a mare of a week? With hump day over, the weekend is in sight and it’s time to start thinking about getting blootered on appletinis! Or do you prefer to put on your schlumpy clothes and curl up with a tray bake? My tortie has a more tweetable Friday night than that. But you […]

Horseplay: horses in idioms and proverbs

Horseplay: horses in idioms and proverbs

Horses have been in the news recently and, as with anything topical and a little bit scandalous, would-be comedians have been riffing on horse-related puns and quips to their hearts’ content. The English language is not new to this sort of play with the word ‘horse’. Horseplay, if you will – which is a case […]

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Genes and genetics: the language of scientific discovery

It is sometimes the case that a scientific field experiences such dramatic progress that the rate at which new discoveries are made outpaces the language needed to describe them. How would it be if there were no words to describe the results of your latest experiment or the structures you see using your new microscope? […]

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What the Nobel laureates did for us

What the Nobel laureates did for us

19 February isn’t a great day, should you happen to have won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Chances are, you might meet your maker – Nobel laureates André Gide and Knut Hamsun both died on 19 February, in 1951 and 1952 respectively. And that’s before we widen the net to other Nobel Prizes (step forward […]

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Unpresidential presidential quotations in the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary is founded upon millions of quotations, which trace the history of each word starting with its earliest recorded use. America’s presidents are well represented among the authors of those quotations; after all, they are influential speakers and writers whose words are painstakingly recorded and preserved. Presidential quotations often turn up in […]

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5 words you didn’t know were acronyms

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say a whole word. That’s why the good British public have taken abbreviations to their hearts so willingly. Many people talk about ‘quotes’ instead of ‘quotations’, ‘info’ rather than ‘information’, ‘R-Patz’ in place of ‘Robert Pattinson’. . . yes? Anyone? And then there is the […]

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