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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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So long and thanks for all the tweets

Today is my last day editing the OUPblog. Back in January 2012, I took over as blog editor without so much as a handover (an early maternity leave prevented one). I promptly screwed up multiple things in the first few weeks, causing great annoyance to my colleagues. Then I gradually began steering the blog on a different course.

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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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Buzzword shaming

By Mark Peters
I recently wrote about the proliferation of the lexical formula “X-shaming,” launched by slut-shaming and body-shaming and taken to preposterous extremes by words such as filter-shaming and fedora-shaming. Everywhere you look, someone is talking about shaming. The hyphen is optional, but the topic is increasingly mandatory.

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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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Curly-murly, flippy-floppy boom-booms

By Mark Peters
There are many words I love. Some of my favorites are abyss and buttmunch. I also love many categories of words, such as euphemisms and variations of the f-word. One of my favorite types of word makes my heart go thump-thump and pit-a-pat: reduplicative words. Reduplicative words are far more than a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, though they’re often a load of gaga.

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Not a Euphemism

I write about euphemisms for Visual Thesaurus every month, and I love collecting and discussing evasions, dodges, lies, and straight-up malarkey, such as the terms sea kitten and strategic dynamism effort. However, I am also a fan of words and phrases in the “not a euphemism” category: especially the phrase not a euphemism itself, which is used in speech and writing to both downplay and heighten the filthiness of dirty-sounding phrases.

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A Smidget of Regional Terms

By Mark Peters
There are some things I love to an unhealthy degree, such as The Shield, Russian imperial stouts, George Carlin’s comedy, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and Evil Dead 2. My heart beats equally fast for the Dictionary of American Regional English, which recently published its long-awaited final volume.

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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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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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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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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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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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