Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: oed 80

Word Origins

Some premature gleanings

I decided not to wait another week, let alone another four weeks, and discuss the notes and queries from my mail. As usual, I express my gratitude to those who have read the posts, added their observations, or corrected my mistakes.

Read More
Word Origins

In the footsteps of our greatest favorite: vampire

We love books and movies about vampires, don’t we? Everybody knows who Dracula was, and many people believe that we owe the entire myth to him. This, however, is not true. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist deals with the history of the word “vampire.”

Read More
Word Origins

Post-summer gleanings

The Oxford Etymologist answers readers’ questions on the origin of the word “race”, variants of “in one’s stockinged feet”, the folkloric creature Lady Hoonderlarly, and “bonfire.”

Read More
Leonardo's Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo in the Stuart Courts

Salvator Mundi: poor picture, poor Leonardo

What does “SM” stand for in the context of Leonardo da Vinci? Our visual engagement with the painting has been skewed by fictionalised stories, lurid journalism, and attributional vitriol. For me, SM now stands for “Sensationalised Mess.” How the painting actually works as a devotional image, what it means, and how it embodies Leonardo’s science and art have become lost.

Read More
Word Origins

In one’s stockinged feet

One does not need to be an etymologist to suggest that stocking consists of “stock-” and “-ing”. The trouble is that though “-ing” occurs in some nouns, it looks odd in stocking. Few English words have more seemingly incompatible senses than stock.

Read More
LGBT Victorians: Sexuality and Gender in the Nineteenth-Century Archives

LGBTQ+ Victorians in the archives

The first challenge that confronts researching LGBTQ+ Victorians in the archives is the question: where to look? Simon Joyce explores how to access more accurate, reliable information about LGBTQ+ Victorians.

Read More
Word Origins

Noises off? A guarded tribute to onomatopoeia and sea-sickness

While trying to solve etymological riddles, we often encounter references to sound-imitation where we do not expect them, but the core examples hold no surprise. It seems that nouns and verbs describing all kinds of noises should illustrate the role of onomatopoeia, and indeed, hum, ending in m, makes one think of quiet singing (crooning) and perhaps invites peace, while drum, with its dr-, probably evokes the idea of the noise associated with this instrument.

Read More
Word Origins

On mattocks and maggots, their behavior and origin

The mattock, a simple tool, has a name troublesome to etymologists even though it has been known since the Old English period. In this blog post, the Oxford Etymologist explores a new hypothesis for the origins of “mattock”.

Read More
BJS

Four ways machine learning is set to revolutionize breast surgery

Machine learning has grown to become quite the buzzword in clinical research. Across recent years, we’ve seen an almost exponential increase in the number of successful machine learning trials conducted, with the technology now hailed as a torchbearer for healthcare’s artificial intelligence revolution.

Read More