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The hedging henchman and his hidden horse

This is the second and last part of the henchman tale, of which the first part appeared a week ago (August 25, 2021). The difficulties confronting an etymologist are two: 1) We don’t know exactly what the word henchman meant when it first surfaced in Middle English, and 2) the obscure Medieval Latin gloss used […]

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The power of words [podcast]

We’re all familiar with the phrase “words have power” but in a political and cultural climate where we become more aware of the power that money, influence, and privilege have every day, how do people wield the power of words?

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The henchman’s dilemma

I am aware of only two English words whose origin has provoked enough passion and bad blood to inspire a thriller. The first such word is “cockney” and the second is “henchman”.

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How Nations Remember

What does the history of Victory Day tell us about Russia’s national identity?

Every year on 9 May, Russia observes Victory Day as its most important national holiday. It celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) by staging events that dwarf those of any other country. But Victory Day is not just about the past. It is also about national identity in the present, and as this identity project has changed, so has the memory of the war.

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Chinese Journal of International Law

The expanding horizons of national security and the China-US strategic competition—where are we heading?

From Wall Street to Beijing Finance Street and beyond, one of the most important issues in international business and law is the changing conceptualization of national security. Corporations, businesses and investors are all affected by governmental decisions with respect to defending national security in the contexts of international investment, trade, and finance. The recent US […]

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The proverbial ninepence

The popularity of ninepence in proverbial sayings is amazing. To be sure, nine, along with three and seven, are great favorites of European folklore. No one knows for sure why just those numerals achieved such prominence.

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SHAPE

SHAPE and societal recovery from crises

The SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy) initiative advocates for the value of the social sciences, humanities, and arts subject areas in helping us to understand the world in which we live and find solutions to global issues. As societies around the world respond to the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, research from SHAPE disciplines has the potential to illuminate how societies process and recover from various social crises.

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Native conquistadors: the role of Tlaxcala in the fall of the Aztec empire

The Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica, leading to the collapse of the Aztec empire, would have been impossible were it not for the assistance provided by various groups of Native allies who sensed the opportunity to upend the existing geopolitical order to something they thought would be to their advantage. No group was more critical to these alliances than the Tlaxcaltecs.

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Word namesakes, also known as homonyms

Some homonyms are truly ancient: the words in question might sound alike or be nearly identical more than a millennium ago. But more often a newcomer appears from nowhere and pushes away his neighbors without caring for their well-being.

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An African American Dilemma

Which is better: school integration or separate, Black-controlled schools?

This summer journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones shocked Americans when she decided to decline tenure at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in favor of an endowed chair at historically Black Howard University. The choice is unexpected because Ms Hannah-Jones, who identifies as Black, has spent her career arguing for school integration as an essential strategy to equalize educational opportunities for students of color.

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From the rise to the maturation of the platform economy

Today, digital platform firms are among the most valuable and powerful firms in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the movement of social and economic activity online, embedding platforms further into our lives.

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How to chide according to rule, or the thin edge of the wedge

Chide remains a word “of unknown origin,” even though the Online Etymological Dictionary mentions the hypothesis suggested in my 2008 An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology. Perhaps it might be interesting to some of our readers to know the history of research into the etymology of this verb.

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