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Oxford Glossary

Over the centuries, the University of Oxford has developed its own specific traditional terms, which can seem like a different language at first, but are easy to pick up. We’ve put together a glossary of some of the most common terms you might overhear around Keble College and the wider University.

Battels

The bill paid to one’s college. It includes accommodation costs, other college expenditure and the card fees for the Bodleian Library. When Keble College was founded in 1870, its main aim was to ‘make an Oxford education available to any gentleman’, and student Battels included a £80 all-in charge.

Blue

Sports play an important part of life at Keble and the wider University, with many great sportspeople and Olympians calling Oxford their former home.

The ‘Blue’ is the highest honour granted to an individual sportsperson at the University of Oxford. Although exact criteria vary by sport, it denotes that you have represented the University in your chosen sport, most often during the Varsity match against Cambridge (who are familiarly known as “Tabs”).

Bodleian Library

The Bodleian is the library service supporting the University of Oxford. Colloquially known as ‘the Bod’, it’s one of five copyright libraries in the British Isles, which means it’s entitled to receive a free copy of every book published in the UK. That’s a lot of books – namely, 13 million printed items, over 80,000 e-journals and outstanding special collections including rare books and manuscripts, classical papyri, maps, music, art and printed ephemera. All across 120 miles of bookshelves!

Bod Card

This is the name of the University card issued to students and staff. As the name implies, it functions as a library card for the Bodleian, as well as being a student ID and key card.

Hall

Each Oxford college has its own Dining Hall, where guests, students and staff (who are often sat at a ‘High Table’) can have their meals. Keble boasts a beautiful neogothic Hall — the largest (technically longest!) in Oxford. It’s said to be the inspiration for the Harry Potter movies. Book a Keblestaycation and try out the full English breakfast in Keble Hall.

Hilary

The second term of the academic year. It takes place between January and March.

Magic Gate

This is the gate out of Keble College onto Museum Road. One step out and you’re at the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museum. Why not check out our Culture Vulture package for our recommended Culture itinerary during your #keblestaycation?

Michaelmas

The first term of the year. It takes place between October and December.

Pidge

Colloquial for ‘pigeon hole’: student/staff mailboxes located in the Porter’s Lodge.

Punting

In summer you can enjoy a punt down the river. This is the term used for the long, flat bottomed wooden boats you see around Oxford. You can hire these from Cherwell Boathouse.

Students of Keble College sometimes take a punt and stop at the “Vicky Arms” (Victoria Arms) for a cold pint by the River Cherwell!

Sub Fusc

Official academic dress used for public examinations and ceremonies. It traditionally includes a dark suit/dark skirt, a white shirt, a white or black bow tie, ribbon or a regular black tie, dark shoes, a gown and a mortar board. You may see students wearing carnation flowers with their sub fusc. Traditionally, Oxford students wear a white carnation for their first exam, a red carnation for their last exam, and a pink carnation for all those in-between.

Torpids/Summer VIIIs

The two main intercollegiate rowing races, which take place in Hilary and Trinity terms. If a college crew ‘bumps’ (overtakes) the boat in front of them on each day of racing, they get ‘blades’. Traditionally, crews who have won blades have their names chalked up on the walls of the college, and you will see examples of these around Keble.

Trinity

The third term of the year. It takes place between April and June.

Tutorial

Colloquially known as a tute. The cornerstone of an Oxford University education, a tutorial is a weekly or fortnightly session with a subject tutor, who is often a world expert in his or her field, to discuss and expand upon the week’s work.

Warden

The Head of Keble College, currently Sir Jonathan Phillips. Heads of Colleges across Oxford are referred to by a number of different terms, including ‘Principle’, ‘President’, ‘Master’, and ‘Provost’.

An offer not to miss

This summer we’re launching #keblestaycations where you can create your own unique, authentically Oxford experience. Keble College is opening its historic doors this summer to offer you the chance to stay in the college, with a choice of single, double or twin room, deep cleaned and ready for the UK Staycation of 2021 AND including a delicious breakfast in the Gothic Dining Hall (said to be an inspiration for the great hall in the Harry Potter series).

Bookings are now open for August and September 2021!