Tag Archives: oed

A Word on Asphalt

Did you ever see the word “ashfault” in a newspaper, book, article ­– or anywhere else at all? Well, until recently I was unaware of this word’s existence (too). It was only when I read Paul Brian’s usage guide Common … Continue reading

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Jane Austen and imply and infer

K.C. Phillipps, in his book Jane Austen’s English (1970: 51), identified a usage problem in Jane Austen’s language: “The one usage to which the [sic] purist might object is infer in the sense of ‘imply’, though the NED [now OED] (infer … Continue reading

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Eenermost: a gross corruption?

In the one instance in which this word occurs in Jane Austen’s letters it doesn’t mean what the spelling appears to suggest (innermost?): he said the fleas were so starved when he came back from Chawton that they all flew … Continue reading

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Edmund Weiner and English usage guides

We probably all know Edmund Weiner  as one of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary. But he is also the writer of a usage guide: The Oxford Guide to English Usage. The book first came out  in 1983, and … Continue reading

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I’m currently analysing the entries in Five Hundred Mistakes of Daily Occurrence (1856), one of the earliest Americn usage guides (though not the earliest one, as I thought before), for a paper I’m giving on the topic at the 5th … Continue reading

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An Academy of English?

Even if Great Britain never had an Academy of English similar to the France’s Académie Française or the Spain’s Real Academia Española, authority is still assigned to different bodies. But to whom? The desire for having a standard to hold … Continue reading

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That was literally awesome

All things come to an end. No matter how hard we try, but ultimately we cannot prevent them from disappearing or not fitting our needs anymore. Take, for example, shoes. As a kid I had awesome shoes with blinking lights … Continue reading

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Britishisms (try pronouncing this!)

One of our readers alerted us this morning to an article in the online BBC News Magazine called “Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English“. She commented: “Isn’t it interesting how it’s the opposite to what I looked at in my … Continue reading

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A healthy or healthful debate

Autumn has arrived and the battle against catching colds has officially begun. The recent weather with its cold winds and heavy rain showers makes it even more difficult to fight off colds. Vitamins and staying dry seem to be the … Continue reading

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Ain’t, Fanny Burney and the OED

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One of my most delightful discoveries when I was looking for first quotations from eighteenth-century authors in the OED was that Fanny Burney was cited as the first user of ain’t. The source was Evelina, her first novel published in … Continue reading

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