Showing 1-10 of 14 entries tagged


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to come in from the cold

The phrase ‘to come in from the cold’, meaning ‘(esp. of a spy) to return from isolation, concealment, or exile’, is famous from John le Carré’s 1963 novel “The Spy who Came in from the Cold”. OED editors are currently researching […]


Among North American children, ‘cooties’ are an imaginary germ with which a socially undesirable person, or one of the opposite sex, is said to be infected. Our first evidence for this common playground taunt is from 1967, in a children’s novel by Beverly Cleary […]


Was a ‘disco’ a dress before it was a nightclub? That’s the surprising implication of the evidence OED researchers have uncovered while revising the entry for disco n. The earliest quotations our editors have found […]


The famous cocktail of peach juice mixed with Prosecco or champagne is said to have been invented in Venice at Harry’s Bar in the 1930s, but named only in 1948 (in honour of the painter Giovanni Bellini, c1430–1516). Our earliest evidence […]


The tribal practice of decapitating enemies and preserving their heads gave us the first sense of ‘headhunter’ in 1800. Nowadays we’re more likely to think of the less gruesome recruitment practice […]

low rider

A low-rider is a car that has been modified to allow its chassis to be lowered closer to the ground […]

the Company

In 1989, when the OED first entered the expression ‘the Company’ as a name for the Central Intelligence Agency, the earliest evidence we had was from a 1967 slang dictionary. Research has since turned up […]

suicide (drill)

In American sport, ‘suicide’ refers to a type of particularly grueling running drill, usually performed on a basketball court. Athletes […]


If you ask a Scot to point you in the direction of the cludgie, he or she will most likely know exactly where you want to go, but may wince at your use of slang. […]

Hold ’Em

At any given poker night nowadays, there’s a good chance that ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’ (also called simply ‘Hold ‘Em’) will be played. But before the 1970s, […]

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