Oxbridge is a portmanteau word that is used to describe students who are studying in or are alumni of the schools of Oxford or Cambridge. The names Oxford and Cambridge are the ones that are mashed together to create this word. However, this brings up the question of why have this word in the first place.
Oxford and Cambridge are the two premier educational institutions in the United Kingdom that are still in a state of continuous existence. Even though both universities were founded over eight centuries ago, the portmanteau term Oxbridge is relatively new. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded instance of the word being used is in a work of fiction called Pendennis which was published in 1850. The main character of that novel attends the fictional Boniface College, Oxbridge. Even famous poet Virginia Woolf used the term Oxbridge, although as a citation to Thackeray’s work, A Room of One’s Own, a 1929 essay. The term then proceeded to be used in the Times Educational Supplement in 1957, and the following year in Universities Quarterly.
When the term is expanded, the universities are always referred to as Oxford and Cambridge in that order on the basis of which year they were founded. Even though it comes from humble beginnings, the word term Oxbridge is used in a pejorative way to depict the sort of pompous sanctimony that elites generally display when engaging in conversation with folk who are outside of their classy social circle.
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