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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Not by “bread” alone [Part I]

Two recent posts (part 1 and part 2) were devoted to the origin of the word bride, and it occurred to me that a quick look at a few other br-words might be of some use. Breed, brood, and bread have been more than once invoked in trying to explain the etymology of the troublesome Germanic noun. […]

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Alain Locke, Charles S. Johnson, and the establishment of Black literature [excerpt]

In March of 1924, Charles S. Johnson, sociologist and editor of Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life, approached Alain Locke with a proposal: a dinner was being organized with the intention to secure interracial support for Black literature. Locke, would attend the dinner as “master of ceremonies,” with the responsibility of finding a common language between Black writers and potential White allies.

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Alexander the Great in numbers [quiz]

Have you got Alexander’s number? The Treasures of Alexander the Great: How One Man’s Wealth Shaped the World explains the career of the Macedonian king by exploring a set of mind-blowing numbers. Test your knowledge of Alexander’s life with this quiz!

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Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of the US

After Oscar Wilde graduated from Oxford, he moved to London and fell into unemployment and although he tried his hand at different jobs he couldn’t find any stable source of income. However, he did become friends with some of the celebrities of the day and attracted the attention of the caricaturist of Punch magazine, which eventually brought him to the attention of theatre promoter Richard D’Oyly Carte.

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Oxford Think Festival: 10th – 18th November 2018

Oxford University Press is delighted to once again partner with Blackwell’s Oxford to host a weekend of talks and discussions. After three successful years as the Oxford Philosophy Festival, the event returns this year as the Oxford Think Festival.

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Moral resilience – how to navigate ethical complexity in clinical practice

Clinicians are constantly confronted with ethical questions. Recent examples of healthcare workers caught up in high-profile best-interest cases are on the rise, but decisions regarding the allocation of the clinician’s time and skills, or scare resources such as organs and medication, are everyday occurrences. The increasing pressure of “doing more with less” is one that […]

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Are you an informed voter? [quiz]

With the 2018 U.S. midterm elections quickly approaching, it’s important that Americans feel prepared to enter the voting booths. To help our U.S. readers feel better prepared on election day, we created a quiz to test your knowledge on key political issues.

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Sitting down with author and historian Colin G. Calloway

The National Book Award is an American literary prize given out each year by the Nation Book Foundation. Five judging panels made up of writers, literary critics, librarians, and booksellers determine a long list, award finalists, and award winners for a selection of categories. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with historian Colin G. Calloway, whose book The Indian World of George Washington has been long listed for the Nonfiction National Book Award. In the interview below, Colin discusses the research behind his book, the complicated relationship between George Washington and Native Americans, and his one key takeaway from Washington’s life.

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The bride all dressed in white bows out [Part II]

So where did the word bride come from? Granted, the initial meaning of bride is not entirely clear, but neither is it hopelessly opaque. Whatever the interpretation, the bride has always been a woman who will soon become a wife, and the mystery surrounding the sought-after etymology comes as a surprise, regardless of whether the initial sense of the noun was “the woman to be married,” “the woman after the consummation of the marriage rite,” or even “daughter-in-law” ~ “a new female member of the adopting family.”

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Dystopia: an update

True aficionados of the earthly apocalypse cannot fail to have noted the deepening pessimism in discourses on what is often euphemistically referred to as “climate change”, but what should be designated “environmental catastrophe”. The Paris Agreement of 2015 conceded the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, albeit without binding nations to either achieve this specific target or impose specific binding targets in turn on the worst offenders, namely the fossil fuel industries.

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Dignified debates: a better way to argue about politics

Rebecca Roache expressed a common feeling when in 2015 she blogged, “I am tired of reasoned debate about politics.” Many people today find arguments unpleasant and useless. That attitude is both sad and dangerous because we cannot solve our social problems together if we know that we disagree but do not understand why. Luckily, arguments can help us accomplish a lot even in extreme cases.

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Etymology gleanings for September 2018

Many thanks to those who have commented on the recent posts and written me privately. My expertise is in Germanic, with occasional timid inroads into the rest of Indo-European. Therefore, I cannot answer questions about Arabic and Chinese. Below, I’ll say something about Hittite, but, obviously, for my information I depend on the authority of others.

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Danger, devotion, and domestic life in Renaissance Italy

Renaissance Italians had many ways of warding off danger. They would hang strings of coral above their beds or place Agnus Dei—small pendants decorated with the Lamb of God and containing fragments of wax from the Easter candle burned at St Peter’s in Rome—in their infants’ cribs.

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Thoughts on the origin of the word “bride” [Part I]

The blog named “The Oxford Etymologist,” which started on March 1, 2008, and which appears every Wednesday, rain or shine (this is Post no. 663), owes many of its topics to association. Some time ago, I wrote about the puzzling Gothic verb liugan “to lie, tell falsehoods” and “to marry” (August 15, 2018) and about the etymology of the English verb bless (October 12, 2016).

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