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Future of the OED

The new chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary discusses its future. "My idea about dictionaries is that, in a way, their time has come. People need filters much more than they did in the past."
posted by anothermug on Jan 26, 2014 - 50 comments

Words of the Day

Please enjoy this smattering of Word of the Day sites and pages: OED (RSS), Wordsmith (RSS), Wordnik, The Free Dictionary (RSS), Merriam-Webster (RSS), WordThink (RSS), Urban Dictionary (RSS), Macmillan (RSS), NY Times Learning Network Blog (RSS), Scrabble, Wordsmyth (RSS), Easy Speak (Toastmasters), Wiktionary, Wiktionary "Foreign", OLDO (RSS: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, all in OLDO), Arabic (RSS), Japanese (RSS), Nahuatl, ASL, History, Geology, Theology (RSS), and Sesame Street (not daily, unfortunately).
posted by cog_nate on Dec 13, 2013 - 11 comments

It's what the words mean.

The dictionary of the Global War on You
A first attempt to “rectify” American names in the era of the ascendant national -- morphing into global -- security state.
Secret: Anything of yours the government takes possession of and classifies.
posted by adamvasco on Jul 7, 2013 - 22 comments

"I love the idea of witnessing the birth of that word."

"In 1872 two men began work on a lexicon of words of Asian origin used by the British in India. Since its publication the 1,000-page dictionary has never been out of print and a new edition is due out next year. What accounts for its enduring appeal? Hobson-Jobson is the dictionary's short and mysterious title." [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 27, 2013 - 10 comments

Compare and contrast, bits vs dead trees

As lexicographers revel in the capabilities of online dictionaries, one person notes the death of print encyclopedias.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 19, 2013 - 18 comments

I help students learn how to study all types of rocks.

Complex scientific concepts explained using only the thousand most used words in the English language. In the spirit of xkcd's Up-Goer Five comic. (Previously.) Use the Up-Goer Five Text Editor to make your own contributions.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jan 18, 2013 - 108 comments

Literally?

"10 Words You Literally Didn’t Know You Were Getting Wrong" [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 19, 2012 - 154 comments

Meta: word-forming element meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond;" from Gk.

Are you enthusiastic ("pertaining to possession by a deity," from Gk. enthousiastikos "inspired," from enthousiazein ) about Etymology? ( ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from O.Fr. et(h)imologie (14c., Mod.Fr. étymologie), from L. etymologia, from Gk. etymologia, properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," Then why not explore ( 1580s, "to investigate, examine," a back formation from exploration, or else from M.Fr. explorer (16c.), from L. explorare ) the vast resources (1610s, "means of supplying a want or deficiency," from Fr. resourse) of the ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Nov 12, 2012 - 30 comments

Electric! Copen! International orange!

Evocative definitions of colors in Webster's Third New International Dictionary and how they got there. [more inside]
posted by Cash4Lead on Aug 17, 2012 - 13 comments

Dictionary, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

Collins Dictionary is seeking suggestions for popular new words that deserve official definitions. Most recent suggestions: blurge, wammocky, dingbat, sloading, and many more.
posted by Fizz on Jul 19, 2012 - 29 comments

Need a word for it?

The Lonely Planet has come up with a list of thirty travel terms that aren't in the dictionary.
posted by gman on Feb 5, 2012 - 70 comments

"It is of such stiff stuff that the upper lip of the British phonetician should be fashioned, giving short shrift to chauvinism."

Howjsay.com is a unique online speaking dictionary that offers clear pronunciations of English words, phrases, slang terms, technical terms, brand names, proper names, profanity, and many foreign words, including common variations and alternatives. Astoundingly, the sound files are not computer-generated -- every single one of the site's 138,152 entries are enunciated in the dignified tones of British academic and polyglot Tim Bowyer, who has steadily expanded its glossary over the years using logs of unsuccessful searches and direct user suggestions. The site is part of Bowyer's Fonetiks.org family of language sites, and is also available as a browser extension and as a mobile app for iPhone/iPod and Blackberry.
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 23, 2010 - 27 comments

"Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools."

Climate change and the vuvuzela leave mark on Oxford Dictionary of English. Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include 'toxic debt', 'staycation', 'cheesebal' and 'national treasure'. To balance them out among the 2,000 or so new items there are a few more left-field choices. Among them are 'cheeseball', which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality, and the more disturbing phenomenon of 'hikikomori', the Japanese word for the acute social withdrawal that occurs in some teenage boys.
posted by Fizz on Aug 19, 2010 - 18 comments

Ask the Editors @ Merriam-Webster's

Merriam-Webster's Ask the Editors blog is the centerpiece of the Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary site. It is an excellent source of sensible advice about English language and usage. Editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski also has a Twitter feed where he highlights various interesting things about words. Finally, Merriam-Webster has started producing Ask the Editor videos, four so far, where they've tackled the subjects of i before e, classical roots, affect vs. effect and how news stories affect what words people look up online, in this case focusing on the effect of the coverage of Michael Jackson's death. Incidentally, Merriam-Webster have released their top ten words of 2009 list, which is based on what words people looked up.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 20, 2009 - 15 comments

80 Million Tiny Images

A visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. [NSFW words included!] [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 15, 2009 - 40 comments

Wordchamp: hover over a foreign-language word and get its definition

Wordchamp lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 5, 2008 - 10 comments

From Anschluss to Zyklon B

The Dictionary of Coming to Terms with the Past (Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung') examines over 1,000 German words that have Nazi connotations, such as Endlösung (Final Solution) and Selektion, It is featured in a review by der Spiegel. Such loaded words still constitute a minefield for Germans today, as the Archbishop of Cologne discovered last year in a situation analogized to Senator Biden's use of the term "articulate" when referring to Senator Obama. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Feb 17, 2008 - 49 comments

ASL Videos

American Sign Language Flash Video Dictionary is a high quality, free dictionary with a huge number of signs. It includes specialized dictionaries of religious signs, conversational phrases, and ASL for babies. Unfortunately it's not possible to link to specific signs, but if you look inside you'll find words from "Abbreviate" to "Zoom" and phrases such as "I cannot fasten my belt," "has he been neutered?" "I already took a bath," "are you married?" and "I need a better firewall."
posted by alms on Jul 25, 2007 - 17 comments

Thow Arte a Kyng

Archaic English Project: "The primary goal of the Archaic English Project was the resurrection of favorite archaic English words."Also, A Concise Dictionary of Middle English. A few Middle English texts. Harvard's Chaucer website
posted by Gnostic Novelist on Mar 18, 2007 - 18 comments

Scots' speech for the glaikit

Losh! That's a stoater of a web site!
posted by persona non grata on Jul 21, 2006 - 20 comments

also featuring the mystery of chicken tikka masala

Were you a minger, sporting a mullet, looking a bit naff when you were getting mullered while out on the pull, anytime before 1988? Or were you posh and minted, looking snazzy after spending your dosh to get a nip and tuck before 1980? If so, the Oxford English Dictionary and the BBC need you for their Wordhunt – a call to help find the earliest verifiable usages of a list of words from the past decades whose origin is still uncertain.
posted by funambulist on Jan 9, 2006 - 28 comments

Dictionary

Merrian-Webster open dictionary "Have you spotted a new word or a new sense for an old word that hasn't made it into the dictionary yet? Well, here's your chance to add your discovery (and its definition) to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary"
posted by robbyrobs on Dec 11, 2005 - 22 comments

WOOUUIIIIII: The sound that a radio makes while being tuned

Ka-BOOM! :: A Dictionary of Comicbook Words on Historical Principles, Based on the Latest Conclusions of the Most Dubious Wordologists & Comprising Many Hundreds of New Words which Modern Literature, Science & Philosophy have Neglected to Acknowledge as True, Proper & Useful Terms & Which Have Never Before Been Published in Any Lexicon
posted by anastasiav on Nov 21, 2005 - 17 comments

Wiki site for English idioms, words

What Does That Mean explains what it means to be having a blue or to be loaded for bear. This is a newish wiki site, so could use some more content. Me? I'm off to get something from the chilly bin and then I may add some regional idioms of my own...
posted by Fozzie on Jun 20, 2005 - 31 comments

I'll see you in MetaTalk, supak!

Is your favorite swear word losing its potency? Stock up on some new ones with the Swearsaurus, a "vast array of swearing, profanity, obscenity, blasphemy, cursing, cussing, and insulting in a massive 165 languages"
posted by Quartermass on Feb 27, 2005 - 21 comments

English to English

The Internet's Most Accurate English-to-English Dictionary This internet service will translate any English word, phrase or passage into English, or vice versa. Your original grammar, style, and spelling are left intact!
posted by adampsyche on Sep 29, 2004 - 21 comments

Onomatopoeia, gee it's good to see ya!

If you don't like dictionary posts, look away, NOW!
But if you like to play with words, the dictionarians at Merriam-Webster have announced the winners in their poll for the Ten Favorite Words for 2004:
defenestration, serendipity, onomatopoeia, discombobulate, plethora, callipygian, juxtapose, persnickety, kerfuffle and flibbertigibbet
Also, a list of runners-up with more of my personal faves: oxymoron, copacetic, curmudgeon, conundrum, euphemism, superfluous, and of course, Smock! Smock! Smock!
[more inside] Via vidiot.
posted by wendell on Jun 12, 2004 - 41 comments

Head-butt

Give me a Glasgow kiss! The OED's newest English words. Glasgow kiss, n. [ Glasgow, the name of a city in west central Scotland + KISS n., in humorous allusion to the reputation for violence accorded to some parts of the city. Cf. earlier Liverpool kiss s.v. LIVERPOOL n.] A head-butt.
posted by mfoight on Jun 10, 2004 - 19 comments

Muckle bonnie wirds

Dictionary of the Scots Language. The two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the Scottish National Dictionary (SND), have been combined into one searchable online edition:
Thus, information on the earliest uses of Scots words can be presented alongside examples of the later development and, in some cases, current usage of the same words. In this way, we hope that the DSL will allow users to appreciate the continuity and historical development of the Scots language. By making the DSL freely available on the Internet, we also aim to widen access to the source dictionaries and to open up these rich lexicographic resources to anyone with an interest in Scots language and culture.

posted by languagehat on Apr 2, 2004 - 13 comments

OED new words

F-word now a word, as well as : twelve-incher, sheepshagger, and old man of the woods! The newest real English words now in the OED.
posted by mfoight on Mar 22, 2004 - 10 comments

Who deserves a break today?

McDonalds CEO Puts McJob in Mainstream. By taking Merriam-Webster to task for including McJob ("low paying and dead-end work") in its latest Collegiate Dictionary, McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo has ensured that yet another disparaging fast-food web-fed meme joins the venerable "You want fries with that?" If this had been Fox, I would have said it was intentional.
posted by mischief on Nov 8, 2003 - 39 comments

You will learn something, I guarontee!

The Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture features everything from Acadiana to Zydeco. Two of the more interesting entries I've found are the Un-Cajun Committee and the unknown to me genre of Swamp Pop
posted by Ufez Jones on Sep 4, 2003 - 15 comments

Lost Words

The Compendium of Lost Words
posted by ttrendel on Sep 3, 2003 - 9 comments

Compendium of lost words

Compendium of lost words You may have been wondering what "triclavianism" means. You may have been disappointed when dictionary.com couldn't help. Look no further.
posted by adamrice on Aug 16, 2003 - 19 comments

Separated By A Common Language And All That Jazz

Do Most Of You Yanks Really Understand What The Brits Here Are On About? Although the cultural mistranslations are probably more a question of tone and habits of irony and understatement, Jeremy Smith's online American·British British·American Dictionary, to be published next September, might be of some assistance. Although I still prefer Terry Gliedt's older but pithier United Kingdom English For The American Novice and even Scotsman Chris Rae's English-to-American Dictionary. Here's a little BBC quiz to test your skills. It seems that Canadians, Australians and [another cute quiz coming up!] New Zealanders are the only Metafilterians to completely capture all the varieties of English usage here. Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that non-U.S. users know much, much less about England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand et caetera than vice-versa? Does anyone else get the occasional feeling we're not exactly speaking the same language here?
posted by MiguelCardoso on Apr 5, 2003 - 66 comments

New OED Words

Dungeons and Dragons, bigorexia, arse-licker, bass-ackward... The online OED (Oxford English Dictionary) quarterly adds a host of new words to the canon of what has become the standard dictionary of the english language(s). Some of the new and spicey words are: arsehole, arseholed, arse-lick,arse-licker, ass-backward, ass-backwards, bass-ackward, bass-ackwards, dragon lady, Dungeons and Dragons, telenovela, and transgenderist!! Thank the gods of language for these new words! So what is you favorite new word and why?
posted by mfoight on Mar 17, 2003 - 26 comments

Maybe you're travelling to Nunavut, maybe you've just seen Atanarjuat, but for whatever reason, you're keen to learn some Inuktitut. Where to begin? Take a course if one is available in your area. Listen to some words and phrases. But unless you're heading to a region (PDF map) where the Inuinnaqtun dialect is spoken (it uses the Roman alphabet), you're going to need to use Inuktitut's syllabics. Download some fonts (another source, and another) -- you'll need them for many sites, including this Inuktitut language reader. Or try out this handy converter. Finally, the Living Dictionary is the definitive reference to this language.
posted by mcwetboy on Nov 5, 2002 - 9 comments

Worthless Word for the Day.

Worthless Word for the Day. Ever feel as if an "obscure, abstruse and/or recondite word" was forced into a newspaper/magazine/quote? Now there's a site that finally finds and provides wwftd! Impress your friends.
posted by geoff. on Oct 21, 2002 - 13 comments

Jedi (n) and Klingon (n)

Jedi (n) and Klingon (n) will now be listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. As will Ass-Backward. Given MetaFilter's interest in grammar this seems worth noting. How the editors decided that "Jedi" is worth inclusion but "Stormtrooper" is not is a conversation I would have loved to have heard. Naturally, people complaining about such inclusions ain't new. However, when words are removed from the same dictionary it's hardly noticed. Clearly unused words go away, so why do people make a stink about this year after year? Slow news cycles? Or is it an extension of the Prescriptivist - Descriptivist Argument with the Prescripts making a push for the "hearts and minds" of the public?
posted by herc on Sep 26, 2002 - 35 comments

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, & Body Language Cues.

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, & Body Language Cues. Items in this Dictionary have been researched by anthropologists, archaeologists, biologists, linguists, psychiatrists, psychologists, semioticians, and others who have studied human communication from a scientific point of view. What exactly does it mean when someone touches their face, licks their lips, or dodges their eyes? You'll find the answers in this huge compendium. I spent a whole summer reading through this whole thing, and it's helped to give me a new lens with which to view human nature. The most complete collection of body language you'll ever come across.
posted by Mach3avelli on Apr 12, 2002 - 10 comments

Emoticons creep closer to being officially considered writing

Emoticons creep closer to being officially considered writing
You have to scroll down a ways ... I don't mean to sound elitist. I believe language is a living thing, and can grow and change and grow up to be a ballerina, if it wants to, even if that seems like an innocent child's dream right now, and is not to be taken seriously really. Seriously though, don't you have a kind of sick feeling that a version of the OED is giving recognition to the idea that punctuation and numerals are making entry into language?
posted by rschram on Jul 13, 2001 - 15 comments

"Doh!"

"Doh!" added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Homer Simpson is the man.
posted by danwalker on Jun 14, 2001 - 45 comments

Cor, Blimey Guv'nor!

Cor, Blimey Guv'nor! It's the English/Cockney Rhyming Slang Dictionary! Very useful if you don't know your John Cleese's from your Duke of Kent's. Once you've mastered the art, you'll have no trouble understanding this passage.
posted by astro38 on Feb 24, 2001 - 4 comments

Not Dubbing the Simpsons

Not Dubbing the Simpsons The Office de la langue française and others are up in arms (ils capotent) about anglicisms in Internet discourse. Business 2.0 talked about it. Branchez-Vous writes a short, cutting article, giving those who pepper their French with English enough rope to hang themselves. («Dans la catégorie "Un mot français, un mot anglais et hop!," le prix revient à Rational Software France, the e-development company, qui a annoncé la nomination d'André Arich au poste de Partner Manager pour sa filiale française, ainsi que le lancement en France du programme de partenariat Rational Unified Partner Program (RUPP).») ¶ Strangely, French has a nicer word for E-mail than English does: courriel. (Grand Dictionnaire is the OLF's official bilingual tech dictionary.)
posted by joeclark on Jan 5, 2001 - 14 comments

Random House dictionary brought up-to-date.

Random House dictionary brought up-to-date. Does this mean I'll be able to use "gaydar" the next time I play Scrabble?
posted by sandor on Jun 27, 2000 - 8 comments

WTF

WTF does AFAIK mean? Should I RTFM before asking the BOFM? If he tells me "IIRC, IMHO, I'm not HTH" what would you do? Try the acronymfinder.
posted by mathowie on Feb 5, 2000 - 2 comments

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