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The talented authors, staff, and friends of Oxford University Press provide daily commentary on a variety of subjects on its official blog since 2005
2024-02-21 13:30
A four-forked etymology: curfew I remember that I promised to answer a few questions, and several of my answers are indeed overdue. But so is the post on the word curfew, which has been smo… Read More
2024-02-20 10:30
Cosmopolitan, cad, or closeted Catholic? Having just arrived via ferry to the Dutch town of Sluis in mid-May 1611, William Cecil, Lord Roos (1591-1618), promptly exposed his “privy me… Read More
2024-02-07 13:30
Intractable words In my correspondence with the journalist who was curious about the origin of caucus, I wrote that we might never discover where that word came from (see the posts for Janu… Read More
2024-02-04 10:30
How synonymy rolls If you look up the synonym of big, you are likely to find words like large, huge, immense, colossal, enormous, and ginormous, among others. Some of these will cause you t… Read More
2024-02-02 10:30
Scientific writing as a research skill Scientific papers are often hard to read, even for specialists that work in the area. This matters because potential readers will often give up and do… Read More
2024-01-31 10:30
Holes in the Tower of Babel The Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1–9) is among the most famous in the Bible. It might even be considered an iconic text—famous beyond its actual… Read More
2024-01-30 10:30
Less-than-universal basic income Ten years ago, almost no one in the United States had heard of Universal Basic Income (UBI). Today, chances are that the average college graduate has not on… Read More
2024-01-24 14:30
The intractable word caucus At the moment, the word caucus is in everybody’s mouth. This too shall pass, but for now, the same question is being asked again and again, namely: “… Read More
2024-01-24 10:30
A librarian’s reflections on 2023 What did 2023 hold for academic libraries? What progress have we seen in the library sector? What challenges have academic libraries faced? At OUP… Read More
2024-01-17 14:30
Etymologicon and other books on etymology" rel="nofollow">Etymologicon and other books on etymology In the previous post, I answered the first question from our correspondents (idioms wi… Read More
2024-01-15 10:30
Your 2024 travel guide [reading list] Now is the time for crafting your resolutions and setting the stage for a remarkable new year. For those ready to become frequent flyers in the upco… Read More
2024-01-12 10:30
Which imaginary book should you read? Are you looking to broaden your book list? Why not try a book that doesn’t exist? Literature is full of fictional books – books which exist… Read More
2024-01-10 13:30
Back to work: body and etymology While the blog was dormant, two questions came my way, and I decided to answer them at once, rather than putting them on a back burner. Today, I’ll de… Read More
2024-01-07 10:30
Janus words January gets its name from Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates, and (more metaphorically) the god of transitions and transformations. What better time to talk about so… Read More
2023-12-20 13:30
English spelling, rhyme, rime, and reason Alexander Pope, not a friend of hackneyed rhymes. Jonathan Richardson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. The story of rhyme has been told mor… Read More
2023-12-13 13:30
Going on an endless etymological spree I have more than once remarked that though I despise punning titles, the temptation to use them is too strong. Sure enough, this post is about spree… Read More
2023-11-24 10:30
Flow of time: reality or illusion? Real time of space-time is one of the dimensions on which we comprehend and describe reality. Time neither flows, nor flies, or drags on; it doesn’t… Read More
2023-11-17 10:30
The art of philosophy The “philosophy of art” in Anglo-American analytical philosophy has had barely any influence on the main epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical concern… Read More
2023-11-15 13:30
Five unexpected things about medical debt Debt is a subject that so many of us dread. It is a drain not only on our wallets but also on our minds, leaving us with the sense that our lives a… Read More
2023-11-14 10:30
The risks of boosterism in research writing At first glance, the significance of a piece of research may not be obvious, either from a paper submitted to a journal or from a published artic… Read More
2023-11-09 08:30
Clever Hans and beyond Last week, I wrote a short blog post on the word fool and related matters. Not unexpectedly, an idea occurred to me to devote the next post to the word clever. But wh… Read More
2023-11-06 10:30
More than emotion words Interjections like oh or wow are sometimes described—too simply—as “emotion words.” They certainly can express a wide range of emotions, incl… Read More
2023-10-25 04:30
brocard" rel="nofollow">Another hopelessly obscure word: brocard The title of this blog post harkens back to the post of three weeks ago (4 October 2023) on the word cowan. The post call… Read More
2023-10-17 09:30
What does “community” mean to you? A community brings together a group of people with any number of commonalities. Whilst academic researchers are involved in a professional com… Read More
2023-10-15 09:30
Should animals have the right to vote? Many countries have adopted legislation that protects the interests of animals to some extent—see, for example, the 2006 Animal Welfare Act in E… Read More
2023-10-13 12:30
Test your knowledge of Gothic literature! Do you know your Shelley from your Poe? Have you read everything the Brontes wrote? Think you are an afficionado of Gothic literature? Take this qu… Read More
2023-10-11 09:30
Making sense of the Molly Maguires today Twenty Irish mine workers were hanged in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania in the 1870s, convicted of a series of murders organized under the co… Read More
2023-10-09 09:30
On Shakespeare’s “illiteracy” No greater honor could have been conferred upon Shakespeare than the one he received in 1623: the publication of his plays in the monumental… Read More
2023-09-27 09:30
squashing and occasional squeezing" rel="nofollow">On squashing and occasional squeezing Figuratively speaking, as a professional, I came to the great etymological fair (fair as in Vanit… Read More
2023-09-26 09:30
Animal pharm is closing its doors Until the middle of the twentieth century, human beings had no defense against deadly microbial diseases. Bubonic plague, cholera, tuberculosis, and syphil… Read More
2023-09-20 14:59
Virtues and vices in a non-ideal world Humans are prone to bias, irrationality, and various forms of prejudice. From an evolutionary perspective, this is no accident. Biases can be viewed a… Read More
2023-09-20 09:30
In praise of sloth Exotic words like bamboozle and wayzgoose are the bread of popular books on etymology, but as regards origins, the toughest words are usually not so conspicuous and not s… Read More

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