Tag: Oxford English Corpus

What is a dangling participle? Not quite dangling in the sense of these shoes on this wire.

What is a dangling participle?

You might have heard that you have to avoid them, but what actually is a dangling participle? True confessions time: back in the dim and distant days when I first embarked on lexicography, I was tasked with drafting potted biographies of famous people. In trying to be succinct, I had a rather bad habit of […]

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An interactive guide to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

An interactive guide

The Concise Oxford Dictionary is 100 years old! To celebrate the centenary of this bestselling dictionary we have created a fascinating interactive tour charting the history of this landmark publication. Explore our interactive guide to discover the story of a dictionary that has been a trusted guide to English for millions of people, and has faithfully recorded how our […]

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corpus

28 million words, one corpus, and thousands of fascinating insights

Have you ever been told as a child to ‘stop daydreaming’ and pay attention? Then you will be interested to know that daydreaming is a word that is invariably used in a negative context by adults but in a much more positive sense by children. Examples from the Oxford English Corpus (a vast electronic collection […]

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There has been a definite move towards using the word marriage to describe a same-sex union which has been formalized with a civil partnership

Shifted meanings: marriage

Last week New York became the sixth state in the US (and the largest so far) to pass legislation that would allow same-sex marriage. The law was promptly signed by the Governor, and should be in effect within the month. It is fairly common knowledge that the word gay has changed its meaning over the […]

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oscar wilde

Unspellable words? Impossible!

Oscar Wilde’s phrase ‘the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’ points us to the un- words, an unexhausted yet unassuming and unexplored group of words which stand as a challenge to Napoleon. The Emperor once said ‘the word impossible is not in my dictionary’. Dictionaries have got a lot better since Napoleon’s day and impossible […]

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James Joyce

Bawways and smellsip: James Joyce’s English

‘Bloomsday’ is commemorated throughout the world on June 16, celebrating the day, in 1904, on which the action of James Joyce’s groundbreaking novel Ulysses takes place. The word cloud above showcases just a few of the contributions to the English language made by James Joyce in all of his works, not just Ulysses. From dreck […]

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football parrots

Goals galore but no parrots: a hundred-word football vocabulary

Fabio Capello, the Italian-born England football manager, was recently reported as saying that he could manage his players with just one hundred words of English. At the time there was much speculation as to which hundred words he would need to achieve this, and the BBC contacted Oxford Dictionaries for a list of the 100 […]

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grumpy cat meme

It’s all meme, me me…

When Richard Dawkins coined the word meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, he wanted a word like gene that conveyed the way in which ideas and behaviour spread within society by non-genetic means: The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which […]

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