Oxford Dictionary

Oxford language can be rather confusing to the uninitiated, with people happily using terms without ever realising how ridiculous they sound to everyone else. So you can converse successfully in Oxford, we’re pleased to present a dictionary of the most common Oxford terminology. Credit for most of the original text goes to the 2004 Freshers’ Guide team.

Ball: An Oxford Ball is a little like a school leavers’ ball, but three times more expensive. Plenty of food, drink and music,  and glamorous dresses though.

Battels: College bills. Paid at the beginning of each term. Include your rent and such like.

Boatie: Rower. Often appears in the term “Boatie Cocktails”, when lots of people, Boaties and non-Boaties, get very drunk.

Bod: abbreviation for the Bodleian Library.

Bod card: Much more than just a library card. It has a photo on it which is supposed to look like you.You put money on this, so you can pay for meals in college, and it lets you in libraries and other buildings.

Bops: What happens when you have a bunch of students have nothing to do on a Saturday night, and all the pubs have kicked you out and you have a basement available with a few disco lights and a sound system? That’s right. Expect sweatiness, cheap cocktails and your mates displaying their dubious taste in music behind the deck.

Collections: 1. Exams held at the beginning of term to test you on work from the last term. Don’t worry, none of these until January at the earliest. 2. Oral reports given by your tutor to the President or Vice-President (of the college, silly!) in your presence. Designed to test your discomfort threshold.

Cuppers: Any official inter-collegiate competition.

Eights: A rowing competion in Trinity Term. Ask someone else if you really want the rules explained.

Entz: abbr. “entertainments”. Organised fun in college. The JCR has two officers to organise them.

Hilary: Spring term.

JCR: abbr. Junior Common Room. A smaller version of a student union. Meetings are held three times in each term, and are open to all undergraduate members of college to go and discuss issues.

JCC: abbr. Joint Consultative Committee. Consults with the undergraduate student body of departments and their representatives, and advises Faculties, Heads of Department and Directors of Studies of any issues which it thinks relevant.

Matriculation: Induction ceremony for new members of the University held in the Sheldonain Theastre. You turn up in sub fusc, get spoken at in Latin for a while, and then leave as a member of the University.

MCR: Middle Common Room. All Postgraduates are members, and they have a nice common room near Garden Quad.

Michaelmas: Autumn term.

Mods: abbr. Moderations. Some subjects have these in the first year. Others, like Classics, in the second. Othersdon’t have them at all. They’re exams. You should try to pass them.

NUS: abbr. National Union of Students.

OUSU: abbr. Oxford University Student Union.

Oxford Union: Not the same as OUSU. The Oxford Union is a members only club with a bar, library etc. World famous for its debates and speakers, and probably worth joining if you can spare the money. Also home to the Purple Turtle nightclub. “The Union” will always mean this, rather than OUSU.

Penal Collections: Exams you have to sit if your tutors are concerned about your work. Don’t fail them. In fact don’t get into a position where you have to take them at all. Luckily, they’re very rare.

Portered: To be in some way stopped by the porters, usually referring to illicit parties.

Prelims: abbr. Preliminary Examinations. See mods.

PRESIDENT: The head of College. Our is the beloved Sir Michael Scholar. He lives in Front Quad, and will probably invite you for lunch.

Punting: Messing around on the river, propelled by a long pole liable to stick in the river bed. More fun to come in Trinity term.

Reps: abbr. Repressentatives. Do what they say on the tin.

Rustication: Kicking, or being kicked, out for up to a year. Rare. Only happens if you do something really bad or don’t do any work, or under exceptional circumstances, such as severe illness. However it is now mostly referred to as suspension.

SCR: The common room of which all fellows are members, located in North Quad.

Sending down: Rustication for life. Very rare.

Scholar: If you get a first in your mods or prelims you’ll become one, wear a different gown, and get some money from college.

SOLO: The online library search

Sub fusc: This is what you wear for matriculation and exams. For men, it consists of a black suit, white shirt (most wear one with a ‘normal’ collar), white bow tie, dark socks and shoes, your gown, and your mortarboard (carried, not worn). For women, a black skirt or trousers, a white blouse, a black ribbon, black shoes, gown, and mortarboard or soft cap if preferred, again carried. Honestly? Don’t get the soft cap. No one does. You can buy this in Freshers’ Week, or before you come up. A trip to Oxford beforehand is useful anyway, for familiarisation. There are plenty of shops where you can get any of the gear you don’t already have (i.e. cap and gown), including Walters (Turl Street), Shepherd and Woodward, and Ede and Ravenscroft (both High Street). OUSU might be selling caps and gowns as well. You’ll get an order form if they are.

Tab: Cambridge student.

Torpid: Another rowing event, in Hilary term.

Trinity: Summer term.

TW: Tommy White- the quad or the building

WUS: abbr. World University Service.