Showing 1-10 of 24 entries tagged

North American


The winter festival of Kwanzaa was initiated in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an African-American activist and scholar, but the earliest example in the OED is from […]

in your dreams!

The sarcastic interjection ‘in your (or my, her, his, etc.) dreams’ is familiar in everyday spoken English, but the earliest evidence our editors have found comes from a Usenet post in 1986. We suspect that it may have been used earlier […]


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 […]

baked Alaska

‘Alaska’, or ‘baked Alaska’, is a dessert made of ice cream topped with meringue, baked in a hot oven so that the meringue cooks before the ice cream melts. There are earlier examples of similar desserts, but […]


OED editors are investigating the word ‘doorbuster’, referring to a special limited-time sale which is designed to draw in customers. The earliest evidence we have found thus far […]


While researching the history of the word ​’mochaccino’​ ​for potential inclusion in the dictionary, ​OED ​editors were surprised that the earliest […]

party animal

When the ​OED ​added its entry for ​‘party animal’, meaning ‘an exuberant reveler’, in 2005, the earliest quotation we were able to include was from 1982, but we knew that the term could almost certainly […]


A ‘gangster’ is somebody who is part of a criminal gang. Despite such gangs having been around for a very long time, this word for an individual member […]


Travelling branches of public libraries have existed since at least 1905, when Mary Titcomb, a Maryland librarian, used a horse-drawn wagon as a library on wheels. The coinage of the word bookmobile to refer to these mobile libraries, however, […]


The exclamation ‘ew’ has become an instantly recognizable expression of disgust. Used since the late […]