Showing 1-10 of 15 entries tagged

etymology

Word stories

As a historical dictionary, the OED shows how words can change and extend their meanings over time. Here we look at the stories behind some everyday words (old and new),…

Material world: the language of textiles

The English language is rich in words for fabrics and textiles imported from various regions of the world. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries in particular an enormous number…

A hat, a hypnotist, and one (partially) bad egg

The Du Maurier family had several illustrious members. Daphne Du Maurier (1907-1989) is now probably the best-known, a prolific novelist whose writing inspired such films as Rebecca, Don’t Look Now,…

The AUTO- age

‘Self’ reference How readily someone may be understood when using a new word will depend on several factors: the intuitable transparency of meaning, its clarity in context, the receptiveness of…

‘digital’

In lexicography it is often easier to identify developments in the meaning and usage of a word than it is to determine their causes. The quotation evidence that we adduce…

‘engine’

An engine in a car or aeroplane is such a solid, physical thing that it might be hard to imagine that the word engine has shown much development over its…

‘information’

If the content of OED is now more extensive and diverse than that of previous editions, we could say the same of the dictionary’s readership. Usage statistics from the OED…

‘mammoth’

What does the OED‘s entry for the word mammoth tell us about the development of the word in English? Take a brief look at the entry as a whole: before…

Nachos, anyone?

In the 25 years during which I worked for the Oxford English Dictionary, before the days of sophisticated electronic searching, the methods used by OED library researchers like myself were…