Showing 11-15 of 15 entries tagged



A century is not that long in the history of the English language. Over that kind of timescale words do of course acquire new nuances, and new meanings, but it’s relatively unusual to come across a word whose core meaning—what most people would understand by it—has shifted significantly since it was first included in the […]


The word rum is first recorded in 1654 in the Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, where it is mentioned along with another of its names kill-devil: Berbados Liquors, commonly called Rum, Kill Deuill, or the like. The word itself is of obscure origin, being somehow related to rumbullion and rumbustion, words whose origins […]

Lights, camera, lexicon: the language of films in the OED

Film, that great popular art form of the twentieth century, is a valuable window on the evolving English language, as well as a catalyst of its evolution. Film scripts form an important element of the OED’s reading programme, and the number of citations from films in the revised OED multiplies with each quarterly update. The […]

Pigskin and gridiron: notes on the American Football lexicon

As yet another January creeps to a close, American football fans across the globe are counting down the days in anticipation of the ultimate game of the season, the National Football League championship known as the Super Bowl.  As the OED indicates in its etymology, the term Super Bowl is styled after the names of […]

Raw-head, bloody bones, and other terrors of the nursery

Please note: the links in this article require subscriber access to the OED Online. A quick tour of the Historical Thesaurus is available on open access. ‘Bloudy bone, Bloudelesse and Ware woulf’ The relaunched version of OED Online is now integrated with the Historical Thesaurus of the OED, and these two resources allow one to […]