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

March Madness: The Final Four

Final Four

While the British and American heads of state were busy fine-tuning their own March Madness bracket picks over dinner last week, the Oxford Dictionaries Bracket Challenge has already hit its stride. How did your favorite sports expressions do? The gloves are off In the closest match-up yet, the venerable saved by the bell proved to […]

Explore the language of Irish English, from ‘gobdaw’ to ‘hooley’

Ireland

Tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day, which seems a perfect excuse to not only go out for a few beers and perhaps a couple of glasses of usquebaugh, but also to take a closer look at some Irish English words. However you choose to celebrate tomorrow, whether you’re planning to dance your socks off at a […]

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Interactive quiz: how well do you know the language of film?

Film quiz

Hollywood doesn’t pay much attention to lexicographers (Billy Wilder’s 1941 comedy Ball of Fire is the notable exception), but lexicographers are duty-bound to make a careful study of the world of film. The Oxford English Dictionary regularly studies screenplays as part of its research programme, and cites nearly 200 examples from film scripts. During the […]

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Delve into Dickens with our interactive text analyser

Delve into Dickens

It’s easy to get lost in a good book. If you’re not careful, you can lose hours, or even days immersed in a fictional land; forgetting to eat, postponing sleep while you read just one more chapter… But have you ever wanted to physically climb into a book so that you can get your nose […]

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Interactive quiz: Dickens or what the dickens?

Dickens quiz

2012 sees the bicentenary of one of the great and prolific authors of the English literary canon – Charles Dickens. His contribution to literature speaks for itself, but his contribution to the English language is also significant. In particular, the names of some of his characters have entered the language as words in their own […]

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Witches, warlocks, and werewolves: an interactive Halloween timeline

Interactive Halloween timeline

Halloween conjures up lots of lovely childhood memories for me. We didn’t go trick or treating, we went guising, but the basic premise was the same – we would dress up and visit neighbouring houses, but in order to be rewarded with sweets or small amounts of money, we had to sing for our supper […]

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When worlds collide: science or science fiction?

Science or science fiction?

The discovery, reported this week, of a faster-than-light neutrino shows just how easily the line between science and science fiction can become blurred. Equally, to the uninitiated, the language of science can be indistinguishable from the language of science fiction. We all know, alas, that Superman does not really exist, but how about the kryptonite […]

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How Shakespearean are you?

How Shakespearean are you?

The words of Shakespeare are still held, nearly 400 years after his death, to be some of the most poetic ever written and his influence on modern English is indisputable. Contributions such as pound of flesh (Merchant of Venice) and green-eyed monster (Othello) are fairly well-known, but did you know that he was the first […]

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