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

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A list of phobias from atelophobia to zelotypophobia

We define a phobia as ‘an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something’. You are probably aware of the more common phobias, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), and agoraphobia (fear of open places), but did you know there are also words which describe the fear of idleness, […]

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What were your top lookups in the past year?

What were your top lookups?

As part of our occasional search monitor series, here’s a clickable word cloud displaying about 350 of your most-viewed words in Oxford Dictionaries Online. Instead of looking at the last month, we thought it would be fun to look at the most looked-up words since Oxford Dictionaries Online’s inception. Over the last year a lot […]

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Why a catastrophe hasn’t always been bad news

Why a catastrophe hasn't always been bad news

The non-stop coverage this past month (at least in the United States) of the negotiations on raising the debt limit has propelled a number of words into prominence. Words and phrases such as ceiling, default, and credit rating have all received prime real estate in many newspapers. Along with these words, used largely in an […]

What could be nicer than nice?

What could be nicer than nice?

Picture the scene. I’m cooking lunch and put on some music to accompany the chopping when in comes Masie, who’s over from Washington. She picks up the CD case and looks at it with the sophistication that only a nine-year-old can manage. ‘Miss Harrison says you shouldn’t say that word.’ ‘Which word’s that?’ I say, […]

All hail the superbike!

All hail the superbike!

Congratulations to Carlos Checa, winner of Round 9 of this year’s Superbike World Championship held yesterday at Silverstone Circuit, a relatively short ride north from our base here in Oxford. If you are not a motorcyclist and you have never been to a race meeting, then the excitement and adrenaline generated by the spectacle may […]

Indebted to…Italy

Indebted to... Italy

Try this experiment: think of a word, any word, that we use regularly in English which has clear Italian origins before reading on. Ready? It’s more than likely you’ve come up with a gastronomic term – a snap poll I took last week placed pizza, spaghetti, and cappuccino as front runners (along with ciao, which […]

Take our band names quiz

Take our band names quiz

Would the Beach Boys have sounded the same if they had been called Carl and the Passions? Does On A Friday convey the same passion as Radiohead? Would teenagers have found as much to scream about had The Executive not evolved into Wham? How much do you know about band names? Take our quiz and […]

‘Hackergate’: the language of scandal

‘Hackergate’: the language of scandal

As the phone-hacking scandal continues to loom large in much of the world’s media, so we hear more and more instances of associated vocabulary – fit and proper, hacking, blagging. Not all of these terms are new – after all hacking has been around for quite some time – but they demonstrate how often scandals […]

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