If you didn’t know about the Oxford comma before the band Vampire Weekend arrived on the music scene in the mid-2000s, you probably did afterward; their third single was centered around the hotly debated piece of punctuation. But have you ever wondered why the Oxford comma is called the Oxford comma in the first place?
The truth, it turns out, is quite a bit more complex than you might expect. Although it’s widely accepted these days that the term “Oxford comma” does, in fact, refer to the fact that this type of comma is well-known for its inclusion in the Oxford University Press house style, the actual history of the term is much hazier.
What’s more, the Oxford comma itself existed long before the Oxford University Press house style came along—even if it didn’t go by that name until recently. Here’s everything you need to know about this divisive piece of punctuation.