Lexicographer Jonathon Green is the editor of Cassell's Dictionary of Slang and the world's foremost authority on this rather rich subject. Here he argues the rationale behind his particular bailiwick:

There are, in round figures, some 100,000 words and phrases in the slang vocabulary. That's half a millennium's coinage, of course, and it's not just British English.

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Dept. of Word Lists

Golf Words


Next time you're on the green, try not to airmail your shot into the drink, cabbage or kitty litter, okay? To get a handle on golf's rich vocabulary, we called PGA professional and author Mark Blakemore, who runs well-known golf schools in Northern California. Mark takes us down the linguistic fairway:

Airmail. "It means you either hit a shot that flew too far, or a drive that carried in the air farther than anybody else's ball."

Albatross. "A score of three under par on a hole, which doesn't happen very often. The word comes from the fact that an albatross is a rare bird. Naming hierarchy in scoring is like that. A hole in one on a par five, for example, is called a condor, which is an almost extinct bird, of course.

Cabbage. "Slang for long grass off the edges of a fairway. It describes very long rough, like those at the British Open or U.S. Open. The words spinach and lettuce are also used."

Drink. "Refers to a water hazard. 'In the drink' means into the water."

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Topics: Vocabulary Fun Words

Erin McKean is the editor of the The New Oxford American Dictionary, the New World cousin of the authoritative, if bulky, Oxford English Dictionary (20 volumes!). She fell in love with words early -- Erin's wanted to be a lexicographer since she was eight years old. She got her wish, working on the Thorndike-Barnhart children's dictionaries for eight years after getting a BA/MA in Linguistics. She's been at Oxford since 2000. We spoke to Erin about writing dictionaries:

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English has some peculiar ways of spelling words, but happily there is often a method to its madness. This month in the Lounge we explore, with the help of the Visual Thesaurus, some of the least among us, at least in so far as number of letters is concerned. Continue reading...
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