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

What’s in a name…

What's in a name ...

The most eagerly awaited celebrity birth since, oh well, the last one, has finally happened and congratulations go to David and Victoria Beckham on the birth of Harper Seven. Ever since the pregnancy was announced, speculation has been rife as to what name would be bestowed upon their fourth child. And now we know (and […]

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‘Hacker’ is a badge of honour where I come from

Hacker

A trait that is common to logophiles everywhere is the linguistic pet peeve: a word or phrase that sets our teeth on edge when we encounter it.  A colleague of mine cringes whenever she hears someone refer to an initialism as an acronym, for example. Pet peeves One of my pet peeves relates to my […]

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Why we love to hate ‘liaise’

Liaise

Everyone has a list of words that set their teeth on edge. Some appear on more lists than others. Liaiseis a prime example – a word that attracts a passionate linguistic hatred that does not match its meaning or length. Why is this? Liaise looks pleasant enough, and is downright euphonious once you wrap your […]

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Summertime: socks, sandals, and strawberries

Strawberry

As those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying our summer, thoughts inevitably turn to those things we associate most strongly with Britain in that particular season. Strawberries and cream Of all the quintessential features of a British summer perhaps the most linguistically English of them all is the strawberry. Croquet and socks Croquet […]

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Let’s just “call a cat a cat”

Cat

Just a few weeks ago Christine Lindberg explored phrases and idioms that revealed the somewhat surprising way in which the English language describes man’s best friend. But what about that equally popular household pet – the beloved, fluffy, crazy cat? (Those three adjectives are among some of the most popular in the English language to […]

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Independence Day in the USA

Apple pie

Independence Day is celebrated in the USA on the fourth of July and for those of you who know bupkis about it, the tag cloud below illustrates just a few American icons included in our dictionary to give you bang for your buck. All are as American as apple pie, so whether you choose to […]

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Canadian English: part one

Canadian flag

When in Canada, eh? In 1971, a CBC radio show asked listeners to complete the following sentence: “as Canadian as…” The idea was to find a national equivalent to “as American as apple pie” or “as English as tuppence.” Suggestions might have included “as Canadian as a butter tart” or even a Nanaimo bar. (Loonies […]

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The Oxford Comma: Hart’s Rules

Comma

The presence or lack of a comma before and or or in a list of three or more items is the subject of much debate. Such a comma is known as a serial comma. For a century it has been part of Oxford University Press style to retain or impose this last comma consistently, to […]

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