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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Fascinating Letters to an OED Lexicographer

Thanks to a project led by Professor Charlotte Brewer of Oxford University and research fellow Stephen Turton of Cambridge, you can now enjoy a trove of letters between James Augustus Henry Murray and his many correspondents during his work on what...

Put A Little Irish in Your English

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary recently added several Irish English terms. One of them is segotia, which means “friend.” There’s an entry for this word, also spelled segocia, in Grant’s own book, The Official...

Pelion Upon Ossa

In The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Bookshop|Amazon), Simon Winchester refers to piling Pelion upon Ossa, meaning “making a difficult situation even more difficult...

Do it for The Hwyl

The new movie Dream Horse tells a true story that takes place in a tiny Welsh village. A bartender tries to breed a championship racehorse and persuades her neighbors to chip in. They agree, they say, because they want to do it for the hwyl. The...

How Do You Pronounce “Palindromist”?

The Palindromists documentary explores a mini-controversy: How do you pronounce the word palindromist? Some people put the stress on the first syllable, but other people and reference works, including the Oxford English Dictionary, stress the second...