Glossary of Crazy Oxford Words

Bar: Every College has one. Ours is one of the cheapest in Oxford and you can use money so anyone with cash can come in, unlike at some colleges which operate a members only policy. Check out the Oxford Handbook for information on individual bars. Ours is in Hall JCR (see college map).

Ball: An entertainment extravaganza for which Oxford is well known. Balls are most frequent at Christmas time, May Day and at the end of Trinity term and range from dressed up parties to very expensive and lavish white-tie affairs. The larger colleges each have a ball every couple of years with bands, DJs, fairground rides, comedians, orchestras, massage parlours, food, drink and more.

Battels: All bills paid to college for rent, food, library fines, printing etc. You will receive your battels in your pidge when you get here and you pay them at the accounts office in South Building.

Blades: What you get if you’re a boatie in an eight and you bump four times in Torpids or Eights. Also the name of the oar used for rowing, sculling etc.

Blue: Can be awarded for winning at your sport in a varsity match. Only some sports can give out ‘blues’ and they are highly sought after. Derived from the longstanding rivalry with Cambridge University. They are the light blues and we are the darks, which is why they sometimes refer to us as ‘the dark side’.

Boatie: person who enjoys quintessential Oxford sport and getting up early.

The Bod / A Bod card:  Name given to the Bodleian Library, the University’s central reference library.  The Bod is comprised of several buildings (e.g. New Bod, Old Bod, Radcliffe Camera – or ‘Rad Cam’), most of which are found in or around Radcliffe Square in the centre of town.  Your Bod card is the university card you are issued with by College which you need to gain entrance to the Bod.

Bop: College party. Big Old Party…

Bumping: The way to win in Torpids and Eights, occurs when an eight catches up and crashes against the boat in front.

Buttery: Located in Hall JCR (see college map), this mini shop service is open from 9.30am-12.30pm and 3.30-5.30pm Monday to Friday. It supplies toast, tea, coffee, chocolate, crisps, milk, stationery,etc, (oddly, not butter).

Cherwell: The river that runs through the college grounds and later joins the Isis. It is pronounced Char-well to confuse outsiders, see also Magdalen.

Collections: A brief interview with the Principal (and Tutor for Graduates) to talk about your progress.

College Adviser: A member of St Hilda’s SCR allocated to you to act as your point of contact between you and the college for academic matters and advice.

College Officer: These are the members of St Hilda’s College staff who manage specific areas of the college’s daily running. To locate the college officer you need please see the St. Hilda’s Handbook or ask an MCR Committee member of someone at the Porters Lodge.

Coming Up: Arriving in Oxford, everywhere else is “down” from the city.

Cox: The little person with the big voice steering and motivating the crew of an eight

Eight: The names of a rowing crew, most Oxford boats sit eight people and a cox. The boat is also called an eight.

Eights: A week of bumps races for rowing held in Trinity term. Saturday of Eights is THE day to watch rowing and drink Pimms

Fellows: Members of the academic staff (SCR) who sit on the Governing Body of a college. In our case all Fellows are female, although this will change as the college goes mixed.

Finals: Exams taken at the end of the degree course. Finals papers are sat in Schools.

Formal Hall: A served dinner in Hall which takes place once a week (Wednesdays). Most colleges serve these dinners on a weekly or daily basis although some have abolished them (shame for them). Gowns should be worn, gentlemen should wear jackets and ties and guests are always welcome. It is always a good time in the mid of a stressful week and surprisingly cheap for a three course meal with wine and Second Desserts in MCR. Overall a weekly good time! The Principal sometimes presides from High Table and says grace.

Going Down: Leaving Oxford

Governing Body (GB): The committee of Fellows that makes all the major decisions about running the college. Every college has one. Ours meets three times a term. The MCR President attends GB meetings to raise issues pertinent to graduates.

Gown: Piece of loose black academic clothing worn as a jacket or waistcoat, often as part of sub-fusc, worn for formal occasions.  Differs for different qualifications; graduates wear “graduate gowns”

Hall: The college dinning room. However St Hilda’s also has a building called Hall Building which is helpfully not where the dining room is located.

High Table: Table at which the SCR eat; at most colleges it is raised above the other tables in Hall.

Hilary: Spring term, January-March

Isis: The stretch of the Thames running through Oxford, south of the High Street and up by the train station. The college boathouses are located on the Isis on Christ Church meadow.

JCR: Junior Common Room. (As in students, committee and rooms). At Hilda’s the JCR has two common rooms, one in Hall with the buttery and bar and a smaller one in South building with sofas and a television.

(Porter’s) Lodge: The first port of call, where you will pick up your keys and mail. The lodge contains notice boards, pigeon holes and is staffed by a Porter.

Loo News: Weekly college newsletter produced by the JCR and put on the back of every toilet door in college. Keeping you updated on news, events and gossip.

Magdalen: Like many words in Oxford the pronunciation does not match the spelling, ah what fun! It is pronounced “Maudlin” not like the Mary of the same name. Magdalen is the name of the closest college to Hilda’s, the bridge leading to St Clements’s, the boys’ school opposite Hilda’s, a street etc.

Matriculation: The formal (and mandatory) ceremony held in the Sheldonian that makes you a member of the University of Oxford. It is a short, private ceremony but you do need to wear sub-fusc. After matriculation you MUST return to college for the official photograph that is kept in college records and champagne breakfast in the MCR.

May Day: A traditionally English celebration day that is still kept in Oxford. The night before is marked with balls and other parties that are there to entice you to stay up all night and watch Magdalen Boys’ Choir singing from the top of Magdalen College tower at 6am before heading off for your champagne breakfast.

MCR: Middle Common Room.  Both the collective body of post-graduate students (and 4th year undergraduates), and the common room reserved for graduate use (located upstairs to the left of the Porter’s Lodge).

MCR Committee: The elected body which ensures smooth management of resources, welfare, and the social life of the MCR.

Michaelmas: Autumn term, October-December, pronounced “Mickel-mas”.

Nougth (0th) Week: See Terms and Weeks

OUCS: The Oxford University Computing Services. Located at 13, Banbury Road it sells all manner of equipment, gives advice and runs many courses. Check out the website for more info:

OUSU: Oxford University Students Union, campaigning for things on your behalf.

Pigeon Holes/Pidge: Boxes in alphabetical order, located in the Lodge, it is the place from where mail is collected.

Pigeon Post: University internal post. They will take any internal mail for you (to other colleges or departments) for free; the collection point is in the Lodge.

Plain: The roundabout over Magdalen Bridge that is the meeting point of Cowley Road, St. Clement’s, Cowley Place is known locally as the Plain.

Porters: The reception staff in any college Lodge. Since they are around 24 hours a day you should definitely make use of this invaluable reference point.

Punts: The other kind of water-sport Oxford is famous for. A punt is a flat-bottomed boat propelled by pushing a pole. You can hire punts from Magdalen Bridge but in Trinity term and over the summer the MCR can use the JCR punts moored by Milham Ford (see college map). Highly recommended for warm leisurely days.

Rustication: Being sent down from Oxford for a specified period as a disciplinary measure. Not good. Don’t do it.

Schools: Three things: The groups of subjects available for study at Oxford, the exams (also called Finals) taken at the end of a degree and the huge building on the High where those exams are held (the full name is Examination Schools).

Scout: A person employed by the college to clean college, including student, rooms. Most Scouts are a mine of information and very friendly but do not abuse them – they are not employed to tidy up unnecessary mess, wash dishes etc.

Second Desserts: Chocolates, Port wine and cheeses served in the MCR after Formal Hall.

SCR: Senior Common Room. Refers to the collective body of Fellows, tutors and college officers (Bursar, College Secretary, Junior Dean etc). They have a common room in South Building.

Sent Down: Being officially asked to leave the university.

Sub-fusc: The Oxford academic dress, also beloved of penguins and waiters.

Supervisor: The tutor responsible for overseeing the progress of an allocated student academically. Appointed within your department and may not be a member of college.

Terms: Oxford has three terms; Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. Full term lasts eight weeks, numbered 1 to 8. Week 0 is for arrival, paper-work and collections. Weeks continue to be numbered after the end of term until about week 12.

Trinity: Summer term, April-June.  Characterized by the juxtaposition of exam revision and punting.

Tutorials: In Oxford these tend to be one-on-one meetings with a tutor, they can also be called supervisions.

The Union: The Oxford University debating society. You can join as a life member at the Freshers’ Fair. As well as top class debates on a wide range of topical and political issues the Union hosts many speakers throughout term. Not to be confused with OUSU, which advocates on student issues within the University.

University Offices: Administrative centre of university. Located in Wellington Square.

Varsity: Refers to sport matches, debates, etc between Oxford and Cambridge University. The most famous varsity events are the Boat Race held on the Thames in London around Easter time and the Rugby held at Twickenham in Hilary. Winning at your sport can, in certain cases, lead to a Blue being awarded. Varsity Tiddlywinks is in the pipelines.

Viva: A spoken exam which you may have to take at the end of your degree. Less likely for Masters, compulsory for D. Phils.

Weeks: More important than calendar dates while in Oxford. They start on Sundays.  Full term is weeks one to eight.