Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The OED -- for free

The BBC, with help from the OED, is running a six-part series on words and their origins called "Balderdash and Piffle." Each week, they discuss the origins of words starting with a specific letter.

In conjunction with the series, the OED is offering free access to the dictionary online for 48 hours after the program airs, at 3:30 p.m. Central time Mondays.

In addition, at any time, you can look up words that start with this week's featured letter or any previously featured letter.

This week, the letter is N. So far, P and M have also been covered.

But you still have two more hours to enjoy unfettered access today.

It's easy to use. And addictive.

So which is older -- balderdash or piffle? Balderdash, by about 250 years.

The currently popular third definition of balderdash: "A senseless jumble of words; nonsense, trash, spoken or written." (1674)

The first definition of balderdash: "Froth or frothy liquid." (1596)

The noun piffle: "Foolish or formal nonsense; twaddle; trash; also used as a derisive retort." (1890)

The verb piffle: "To talk or act in a feeble, trifling, or ineffective way." (1847)

(Via Languagehat)


At 1:32 PM, January 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't all words start with one letter?

At 10:53 PM, January 18, 2006, Blogger Nicole said...

All right, all right. I'll change it.


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