Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

Nikki's reading the entire Oxford Canadian Dictionary. In this latest instalment of our occasional series, she talks us through the letters D – H.

On reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letters D through H

As part of an occasional series, guest blogger Nikki (@exitsideway) talks us through her ongoing project to read every word in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in under a year. Discovering the Interesting It’s been half a year that I have been vigorously getting to know the bulky companion I have come to call ‘Bertie the […]

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A unicorn is a start-up company valued at more than a billion dollars

Unicorns are real (but not what you think)

There has been a spate of unicorn sightings around the offices of Oxford Dictionaries recently. Don’t worry – we haven’t been overdoing it on the glitter and stardust. These unicorns come from the altogether more serious realm of finance. What is a 21st-century unicorn? In the world of big business, a unicorn is a start-up […]

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Did you know that ‘potato’ can be a verb? Discover the language of this versatile veggie in Courtney Shove’s guest blog post.

One potato, two potatoes: the linguistic and nutritional value of spuds

Plump, dirty, and riddled with dimples, the humble potato rarely gets the attention it deserves — unless, of course, Peru and Chile are arguing over who produced them first. I think potatoes should fill us with a sense of awe. Hear me out. Not only can they be scalloped, mashed, and French fried, but potatoes […]

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BFG Dahl dictionary

Why Gobblefunk is not gobbledegook

As Roald Dahl fans around the globe gear up for the author’s centenary this month, which also sees some of his invented words being added to the Oxford English Dictionary, many will be brushing up on their gobblefunk: that unmistakably Dahlesque language full of gloriumptiously jumpsquiffling and wondercrump words. But although the name gobblefunk sounds […]

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One hundred years of Roald Dahl: an Oxford English Dictionary update

It’s time for another quarterly update to the OED, and we have more than 1,000 revised and updated entries including 1,200 new senses for you to explore, as well as an anniversary to celebrate. This month marks the centenary of the birth of author, screenwriter (and sometime fighter pilot) Roald Dahl, and to mark this […]

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Among the slips of paper Arthur Maling used for his work on the letter W are the wrappers for at least five different varieties of chocolate.

Esperanto, chocolate, and biplanes in Braille: the interests of Arthur Maling

The Oxford English Dictionary is the work of people: many thousands of them. In my work on the history of the Dictionary I have found the stories of many of those people endlessly fascinating. Very often an individual will enter the story who cries out to be made the subject of a biography in his […]

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Now a pronunciation editor, Matthew Moreland had the pleasure of being one of OED’s speakers periodically for a couple of years.

You can say that again! A day in the life of an Actor-Phonetician

At the end of last year, a mammoth update meant that OED subscribers can hear words spoken aloud for the first time, in both British and American accents. Little triangles  have appeared next to the transcriptions, and can be clicked to hear the word. It’s now quicker and easier than ever before to find out […]

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It has been claimed that 52 percent of words in use aren’t included in dictionaries – is this true? Elyse Graham investigates how this figure arose, and suggests why it’s not quite right.

Are 52% of words really not included in dictionaries?

In 2011, a remarkable article appeared in the journal Science that argued, based on a computational analysis of five million books, that “52 percent of the English lexicon—the majority of the words used in English books—consists of lexical ‘dark matter’ undocumented in standard references”. Taken at face value, this might seem like an astonishing claim. Fifty-two […]

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