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

Tag: OED

cows in the oed

The peculiar history of cows in the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has hundreds of words that relate to cows. For most English speakers, the idea that anyone would need so many words for one specific animal probably seems absurd. Especially cows. Perhaps it’s their mysterious ubiquity throughout children’s books and TV shows or just the dull empty look in their eyes, […]

Read more »
Thackeray word cloud2

Snobs and brain cracks: Thackeray in the OED

William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811, and before his death just over fifty years later he had written over thirty-five works. These include Catherine (1839-40), Pendennis (1848-50), and The Book of Snobs (1848) – the last of which popularized (and is currently the earliest known evidence for) the sense of snob as ‘a person who admires […]

Read more »
Mountain Bluebird

Twitter and the Oxford English Dictionary

Although Twitter (maximum 140 characters) and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) (over 350 million characters) may seem like strange bedfellows, the former has recently become an integral part of the latter: for the first time, the OED has included individual Twitter posts as part of its quotation evidence. Twitter as historical evidence In recent OED […]

Read more »
John Simpson - Chief Editor, OED

John Simpson, former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, awarded OBE

Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), warmly congratulates former OED chief editor John Simpson on the receipt of an OBE for his services to literature. The 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list, published on Saturday 14 June, recognizes the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. The honour […]

Read more »
OEDOnline_WW1WebBanner_1000px_June14

OED release notes: the language of World War I

By 1914 military involvement overseas had long been leaving its mark on the English language. We can go back to the Elizabethan age, for example, to England’s deep engagement in the Eighty Years’ War in the Netherlands and find loanwords entering English from both Spanish, the language of the enemy, and Dutch, the language of […]

Read more »
OED WW1 timeline

100 words that define the First World War

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) World War I timeline shows some of the ways in which the events of the First World War left their mark on the English language. For example, the wet and muddy conditions of the first winter of trench warfare were evoked in the term Flanders mud (November 1914), while trench boots and […]

Read more »
cat fiddle

Nursery rhymes: time capsules of language

It’s uncanny: when most of us hear the lines “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” or “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall”, we find our brains mysteriously capable (how many years after our youth?) of reciting the full nursery rhyme, as if on autopilot. These are rhymes many begin to learn in the cradle from parents who […]

Read more »
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 […]

Read more »

Tweets