There are 7 posts.
In his pioneering 1755 dictionary, Samuel Johnson focused on words that were, as he put it in an explanatory essay, “used in the general intercourse of life, or found in the works of those whom we commonly style polite writers”. The operative word here is polite, which referred in part to the domains of learning […]more
Admittedly, quite a few words in 21st-century English did begin life as acronyms. Some you may know about (like scuba, short for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) and some you might not (like canola, short for Canadian oil, low acid), but, overwhelmingly, all of these words share two things in common: they came into existence in […]more
Everyone knows what an acronym is – an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, like ‘NASA’ or ‘NATO’ – but not all know what a ‘backronym’ is. While acronyms are formed from phrases or names that exist beforehand, a backronym is an acronym deliberately created to suit […]more
As 2014 draws to a close, we thought we’d take a look at some of the words celebrating their 100th birthday this year. While some of these may be antedated if older examples are found, the earliest evidence currently in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for each of the words below is 1914. So, join […]more
The release of The Riot Club, a fictionalized version of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club, based on Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh, seems a fitting moment to consider how to talk posh. In 1954 the linguist Alan C. Ross published a study of ‘Linguistic Class-Indicators in Present-day English’, which first introduced the concept of ‘U’ […]more
Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say a whole word. That’s why the good British public have taken abbreviations to their hearts so willingly. Many people talk about ‘quotes’ instead of ‘quotations’, ‘info’ rather than ‘information’, ‘R-Patz’ in place of ‘Robert Pattinson’. . . yes? Anyone? And then there is the […]more
There have been many attempts to explain the origin of posh, with some theories being more persuasive than others. Is the famed posh acronym theory true? Let’s investigate! Stylish dandies and cash Posh, meaning ‘smart, stylish, splendid, luxurious’ is first recorded in 1914, with the chiefly British strand of meaning, ‘typical of the upper classes; snooty’, […]more