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

The oxygen of publicity

Smart phone

This Monday past, US Congressman Anthony Weiner held a press conference at which he announced that he had engaged in activities that are unlikely to assist him in furthering any political ambitions he may have.  Specifically, he admitted to sending risqué photographs of himself to a number of women, some via Twitter and some via […]

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I admit it . . . I’m dog-given

Dog

I love dogs. I think I was just born that way. Given that I’m part of a vast community of canophilists, it’s never made sense to me that dogs often feature in an unfavorable way in English. Every group in the animal kingdom is represented in at least a few phrases, idioms, allusions, and metaphors, […]

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A plague of initials

Initialisms

There are always initials in the news, but it seems of late that we are suffering from a veritable plague of them (to borrow IMF, FIFA, BBC, NATO, PBS, and the NCAA. Most people probably don’t think too much about such abbreviations. If they do, it will be to classify them as different in some […]

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Schmick new words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online

Free running

We’ve managed to spare a few femtoseconds in our busy schedule to add some schmick new words to Oxford Dictionaries Online. Whether you enjoy crafting, free running, or just surfing the Internet on your lappy, you’re sure to find something to interest you amongst the new additions. The world of computers and social networking continues […]

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The Oxford Chinese Dictionary is online!

Chinese characters

Chinese characters not displaying properly? Oxford University Press is excited to announce the online launch of the Oxford Chinese Dictionary, a landmark publication that has already established itself as the must-have printed companion of students and teachers of Chinese around the world, since it was published in 2010. But how is a Chinese dictionary made? […]

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Quotations for every occasion

Henry VIII

  One of the most interesting aspects of working with quotations is seeing how words from one occasion are applicable to another. The recent controversy over the sale of Forestry Commission land brought to mind the words of the poet William Blake, writing over 200 years ago: ‘The tree which moves some to tears of […]

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Mapping the origins of English

Mapping the origins of English

Today’s English owes much to many of the world’s languages, from French and German to Chinese and Hindi. Our interactive map below is the first of an occasional series which will offer you a glimpse of the range of linguistic influences that English has absorbed.

Click on the map to see how English has been shaped by French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Flemish. Your armchair travels should give you some interesting discoveries: could you guess the origins of fluff, anchovy, vamoose, and baize?

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Canny lads and radgie gadgies

Newcastle

And they’re like ‘what does canny mean?’ With this complaint, a 20-year-old from Gateshead whose data is recorded in the new Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE) explains that on occasion some of her fellow students, who weren’t fortunate enough to grow up in the North East, just don’t get what she’s talking about. […]

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