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John Simpson - Chief Editor, OED

John Simpson, former chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, awarded OBE

Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), warmly congratulates former OED chief editor John Simpson on the receipt of an OBE for his services to literature. The 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours list, published on Saturday 14 June, recognizes the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. The honour of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) is awarded for having a major local role in any activity, including people whose work has made them known nationally in their chosen area. To see the full listing of the 2014 Queen’s Birthday honours, visit the gov.uk website.

John, whose pioneering leadership saw the OED embrace digitization, joined the OED editorial staff in 1976, and became Co-Editor with Edmund Weiner in 1985. He was appointed Chief Editor in 1993, becoming the seventh OED Editor since Sir James Murray’s appointment in 1879. Under John’s editorship, over 60,000 new words and meanings were added to the OED. John retired from his role as chief editor in October 2013, and he continues to work with the OED as a consultant.

John was born and educated in Cheltenham. He is a member of the English Faculty at Oxford and of the Philological Society (where the idea of the Dictionary was first mooted in the 1850s), and a Fellow of Kellogg College. He is a world expert on proverbs and slang, and has edited dictionaries on both these subjects for Oxford University Press; he regularly lectures and broadcasts on the English language and on the OED.

John was interviewed for this blog shortly before his retirement. You can watch the full interview, or see the highlights below to learn how life at the OED has changed since John joined in 1976, discover which dictionary entries he most enjoyed working on, and find out whether the former chief editor of the OED has a favourite word.

How have dictionaries changed?

Which dictionary entry did you most enjoy working on?

What is your favourite word?

 

A version of this article has been published on the OED website.

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