Talk the Talk: A Guide to Oxford Vocabulary

18 Jan

We’re all aware that English people have a slightly different way of speaking than we Americans do. And, to add another layer of confusion to the already mystifying culture gap, the English who live and study in Oxford have a separate “Oxonian” vocabulary all their own. Therefore, even if you had been born and bred in the jolly ol’ motherland, you could still come to Oxford University and find yourself totally lost on all the student slang and academic jargon that’s tossed around like beachballs.

Whether you’re an international student or a native Englishman, you still have to navigate the language learning curve that inevitably comes upon your entrance into the (*sniff sniff*) “Oxford Culture.”

With your welfare in mind, I now graciously impart my vast 2-weeks’-worth of knowledge upon you, as a sort of social faux-pas insurance. With this handy-dandy vocab guide, you’ll be able to blend into the bubble that is Oxford with no problem at all!

Bop = Imagine a Halloween frat party, but with less Bud Light and all around more intelligent people – it’s a themed costume/dance party that happens at least twice per term in the JCR.

The Bod= Short for the Bodleian Library which is the main university library; it’s a copyright library, meaning it owns one copy of EVERY BOOK ever published in the English language. Cool.

E&C= Nickname for the Eagle & Child Pub, which is right around the corner from Regents. It’s famous for being the hangout spot of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein

Freshers= college freshmen; also called “first years”

G&D’s = George & Danver’s Ice-Cream parlor, which not only serves up scrumptious desserts but is also open conveniently until midnight every night. Latenight studying never tasted so good!

Hilary=The term lasting from January until March; very wet and very cold.

JCR= Stands for “Junior Common Room” and refers to both the building and the undergraduate student body; all the college undergrads collectively make up the JCR

Michaelmas=The first term of the academic year, lasting from October to December

Rad Cam= Abbreviated version of the “Radcliffe Camera” which really isn’t a camera like the kind we use for photos, but a giant round reading room. It’s very pretty but make sure if you go in you’re verrrrrrry quiet or you’ll get an evil death-glare from the librarians.

Snooker= Pool/Billiards

Subfusc= The official academic outfit for Oxford University, consisting of the robe, the mortar board hat, and a bow tie (guys) or ribbon tie (girls); worn for all important ceremonies including matriculation and exams.

(Above: Oxford students wearing the subfusc)

Tab= Derogatory term for a member of the most inferior and detestable of all universities (aka Cambridge)

Term= An 8-week period in which you go to classes, lectures, and tutorials, and study your butt off.

Tutorial = (also shortened to “Tute”); the main method of instruction here at Oxford, where you meet for an hour-long individual session with your teacher, usually once per week. You have an essay due at the time of each tutorial so make sure you’re prepared and know your stuff because there’s nowhere to hide!

Trinity= Last term of the academic year, from May through June.


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