Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

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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Do our lexicographers ever feel tempted to make up words in order to win a game of Scrabble?

An OED editor answers some more of your questions

When we took to Twitter and Facebook to ask you to send us your questions about language and lexicography the last time, we received so many submissions that it wasn’t possible to answer all of them in just one blog post. Therefore, we have included more of your questions below — as well as the most recent ones […]

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Weird and wonderful words from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary starting with the letter c.

On reading the Canadian Oxford Dictionary: the letter C

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. I turn the 379th page and breathe the tiniest sigh of relief: I’m done with C. Totaling 168 pages, it is second in bulkiness only to […]

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upstander new words

Upstander, Turtle Island, and tink: an Oxford Dictionaries update

New words added to OxfordDictionaries.com come, as usual, from a wide variety of backgrounds and areas – from contemporary discussions of gender, to politics, to contemporary slang like CBA (‘can’t be arsed’) and douche canoe (‘an obnoxious or contemptible person’). Here are some of the most notable words entering the dictionary in this update… Gender […]

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Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton in the OED

Can’t get – or afford – a ticket to Hamilton, the hit musical about US founding father Alexander Hamilton? Try the next best thing, for word lovers at least: Hamilton in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). A life in words Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) was one of the most important figures in early America. Soldier, lawyer, […]

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Imogen Fowell illustrates the OED Word of the Day 'pulchrify'.

From ‘acnestis’ to ‘pulchrify’: illustrating the OED Word of the Day

Have you ever wondered what those OED Words of the Day look like? If you have, then you are in luck! Every week, we feature an illustration of one of the OED Words of the Day, as created by our own Imogen Foxell, an illustrator and Senior Editor in Oxford Dictionaries. In these visuals, Imogen illuminates […]

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