Tag: etymology

Interesting words - the word squirrel comes from the Greek skiouros, meaning 'shadow-tail'

9 interesting word facts you didn’t know

The English language has a varied and ever changing vocabulary, which makes it an ideal candidate for etymological studies. In this list below, we take a look at the interesting histories of some common English words. For more interesting word facts and origins, browse our ‘Explore’ section and follow us on Twitter. 1. squirrel 2. awkward The adjective awkward is […]

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What are some Arabic words in English?

Which everyday English words came from Arabic?

To celebrate the launch of our new Oxford Arabic Dictionary, we’re taking a look at Arabic words in English, or, really, English words that have been adapted from Arabic origins, sometimes crossing through other languages first before entering English. Using the infographic below, find out which everyday English words came from Arabic, and track how they […]

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Ladybird or ladybug?

Ladybirds, ladybugs, and… cows?

When this article was in the brainstorming stage, it started with the simple intention of pointing out that a ladybird was neither a bird nor a lady (I don’t mean to impugn the ladybird’s reputation; I am speaking of the definition rather than the insect’s moral character). Along the way we thought we’d point out […]

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tree

When is a book a tree?

The obvious answer to ‘when is a book a tree?’ is ‘before it’s been made into a book’ – it doesn’t take a scientist to know that (most) paper comes from trees – but things get more complex when we turn our attention to etymology. The word book itself has changed very little over the […]

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flowers

In an English country garden

What could be nicer on a sunny Sunday afternoon in spring, than a spot of gardening? Though the language of horticulture proper can seem somewhat bewildering and full of complicated Latin names, growing plants is an activity that people have undertaken for thousands of years– whether for pleasure, or simply for food – and so it […]

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New York library

More tales from an OED researcher

More notes from the field, courtesy of your New York researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Tell people you work for the OED, and they seem to think that you have some mystical authority over the use (or misuse) of the language. (I especially like the random Twitter questions – adjudicating biographies, passing muster […]

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Why doesn' the plural of sheep have an 's'?

The plural of sheep and other plural questions

It’s probably safe to say that most of us don’t give much thought to how plural nouns are formed in English. In fact, add –s or –es, whatever a word’s origin or meaning, might be one of the easiest grammatical rules in the language. So we have book / books, church / churches, hula / […]

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Do you know your OED birthday word?

OED birthday word generator: which words originated in your birth year?

Do you know which words entered the English language around the same time you entered the world? Use our OED birthday word generator to find out! We’ve scoured the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to find words with a first known usage for each year from 1900 to 2004. Simply select the relevant decade and click […]

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