Welcome to Free Word. Interested in exploring the political and cultural power of words? Join us at an upcoming event or read about the themes we explore.


Past Event

Who gets to choose the words we use? In her current exhibition ‘Word Origins’, artist and illustrator Mary Kuper explores the curious growth and origins of the words which make up our language. Where do they come from? And where are they going?

Join Mary and a panel of expert wordsmiths to find out. With poet Dzifa Benson, lexicographer and etymologist John Ayto, Professor Christopher Mulvey of the University of Winchester and English Project, and Free Word Translator in Residence Ollie Brock, we invite you to an evening of wordplay, poetry and tongue-twisting enquiry.

Please bring along your favourite word for our in-house etymologician!


John Ayto is a lexicographer and etymologist, and author of books including the Dictionary of Word Origins and the Oxford Dictionary of Slang.

Dzifa Benson is a writer/performer whose practice embraces many different art forms, and is a regular collaborator with visual artists and musicians.

Ollie Brock is one of Free Word’s Translators in Residence, a literary translator in both Spanish and French and an editor at openDemocracy.

Mary Kuper is an illustrator and artist whose exhibition ‘Word Origins’, currently on display at Free Word, explores the curious ways words grow and change.

Christopher Mulvey is Emeritus Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Winchester, and a trustee of the English Project, which promotes awareness and understanding of the unfolding global story of the English language in all its varieties – past, present and future.

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