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What a load of BS: Q&A with Mark Peters

Terms for bullshit in the English language have grown so vast it has now become a lexicon itself. We talked to Mark Peters, author of Bullshit: A Lexicon, about where the next set of new terms will come from, why most of the words are farm related, and bullshit in politics.

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Holy Court of Owls, Batman!

By Mark Peters
My name is Mark Peters, and I am a Batman-aholic. I blame Christopher Nolan. Between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, I felt an insatiable thirst for more Batman than Mr. Nolan was providing. In my desperation, I turned to a childhood addiction: comic books.

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Post-traumatic snowclone disorder

You don’t have to be an MD or a sick puppy to appreciate the enormous family of humorous medical terms, including ‘peanut butter balls’ (phenobarbitol), ‘horrendoplasty’ (an operation without a sunny forecast), or ‘duck’s disease’ (‘being short’, so-named for the non-NBA-ready stature of quackers).

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No one Tebows after Bucknering

By Mark Peters
Tebow is one of the most successful words of 2011, referring mainly to the post-touchdown pose of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow: just as people plank, they Tebow too. However, the verbing of Tebow’s name is just one example of the popular sport of eponymization. Sports fans love turning athletes into eponyms: words derived from names, like boycott and shrapnel.

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The Oxford Companion to the London 2012 Opening Ceremony

Many questioned how the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was going to make a mark after the spectacular Beijing Olympics only four years earlier. While Beijing presented the Chinese people moving as one body — dancing, marching, and presenting a united front to the world — the British answer was a chaotic and spirited ceremony, shifting from cricket matches to coordinated dance routines, Mr Bean’s comedic dream to a 100-foot Lord Voldemort.

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Flummadiddle, skimble-skamble, and other arkymalarky

Tweet By Mark Peters I love bullshit. Perhaps I should clarify. It’s not pure, unadulterated bullshit I enjoy (or even the hard-to-find alternative, adulterated bullshit). I agree with the great George Carlin, who said, “It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for ya.” Hard to argue with that. What I love is the enormous lexicon of […]

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Fake squid, psychiatric patients, and other Muppet meanings

By Mark Peters
With the arrival of the new Muppet movie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Beaker, and our other felt friends are everywhere. There’s no escaping Jim Henson’s creations, and few of us would want to (unless the movie happens to suck, which is doubtful, given the stewardship of Jason Segel, who showed major Muppet mojo in the heartbreaking and spit-taking Forgetting Sarah Marshall). It’s a good time to look at the history of the word Muppet, which has some meanings that would make the Swedish Chef bork with outrage.

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A fetching snowclone: Stop trying to make X happen

By Mark Peters
A few weeks ago, I spotted this tweet by Braden Graeber: “Dear white guys, stop trying to make camouflage cargo shorts happen.”
Minutes later—in a moment of true synchronicity—I saw a white dude in camouflage cargo pants. Whoa.
As a fashion-challenged, oft-confused doofus, I appreciated the heads-up to two facts: 1) those shorts are an atrocity, and 2) this phrase is a snowclone that’s invaluable in mocking anything fake or contrived that annoys or pains us.

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When life hands you lemon-ology

By Mark Peters

If I had a lemon for every time I heard “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” I’d have enough lemons to open a lemons-only Wal-Mart. If I had another lemon for every time I heard a variation like, “When life hands you lemons, run straight home and hide them because the apocalypse is upon us and soon everyone will want them,” I’d have an absolute monopoly on the lemon market, fulfilling my boyhood dreams.

This expression and its variations are everywhere, nowhere more so than on Twitter, the richest source of jokes

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Up the Wazoo and Into the Abyss: Words I Love

By Mark Peters

It’s easy to find articles about words people hate. Just google for a nanominute and you’ll find rants against moist, like, whom, irregardless, retarded, synergy, and hordes of other offending lexical items. Word-hating is rampant.

So if that’s the kind of thing that yanks your lexical crank, look elsewhere: this column is all about word love, word lust, word like, word kissy-face, and word making-sweet-love-down-by-the-fire, as South Park’s Chef would put it.

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The best of a decade on the OUPblog

Wednesday, 22 July 2015, marks the tenth anniversary of the OUPblog. In one decade our authors, staff, and friends have contributed over 8,000 blog posts, from articles and opinion pieces to Q&As in writing and on video, from quizzes and polls to podcasts and playlists, from infographics and slideshows to maps and timelines. Anatoly Liberman alone has written over 490 articles on etymology. Sorting through the finest writing and the most intriguing topics over the years seems a rather impossible task.

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The Yosemite Sam Book of Revised Quotations

By Mark Peters

Some people and characters are forever associated with a word. I dare you to say refudiate, malaise, nanu-nanu, despicable, winning, and meep without thinking of Sarah Palin, Jimmy Carter, Mork, Daffy Duck, Charlie Sheen, and the Road Runner (or Beaker).

Without a doubt, the poster boy for varmint is Yosemite Sam, the rootin’-tootin’, razzin’-frazzin’ cowboy who

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Denim venom: future products in the style of jweats

By Mark Peters
Word blends are the bunnies of language: they breed like motherfathers. During the recent American Dialect Society meeting in Portland, plenty of blends were singled out. Assholocracy is an apt description of America, especially in an election year. Botoxionist refers to a doctor specializing in the forehead region of vain people. A brony is a bro who loves The Little Pony. That word was voted Least Likely to Succeed, but you can bet similar words will keep sprouting: particularly in the world of fashion.

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