Category: Dictionaries and lexicography

New York library

More tales from an OED researcher

More notes from the field, courtesy of your New York researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Tell people you work for the OED, and they seem to think that you have some mystical authority over the use (or misuse) of the language. (I especially like the random Twitter questions – adjudicating biographies, passing muster […]

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bestie-friends

OED quarterly update: March 2014

The latest update to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) saw our team of lexicographers continue their revision of the dictionary, which involves adding new words and phrases, as well as updating existing entries. If you’re interested in why we’re revising the OED and the work it entails, you can find out more here. This quarter’s […]

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planets

Christopher Marlowe in the OED, from planeting to quinquangle

The works of Christopher Marlowe (the playwright, poet, and alleged spy) not only had an influence on William Shakespeare’s early historical plays, but also on the English language itself, as is evident from the number of times his works are quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). His plays and poems are currently quoted a […]

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US Supreme Court

How do British and American attitudes to dictionaries differ?

For 20 years, 14 of those in England, I’ve been giving lectures about the social power afforded to dictionaries, exhorting my students to discard the belief that dictionaries are infallible authorities. The students laugh at my stories about nuns who told me that ain’t couldn’t be a word because it wasn’t in the (school) dictionary […]

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Alpine Skiing terms

8 Alpine skiing terms

Are you an avid schussboomer? Whether you get your thrills from whizzing down a snowy mountain on a pair of skis or your favorite part of skiing is sipping hot chocolate in the ski lodge, here are a few words you need to know to understand Alpine skiing during these Winter Olympics. Alpine skiing is […]

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crowdsourcing

How can World Englishes benefit from crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is one of the biggest Internet buzzwords today. Believed to have been coined by a US journalist in 2006, the word refers to the practice of accomplishing complex tasks by enlisting the help of a large number of people. Using the Internet to harness the collective intelligence of a crowd has proved successful in […]

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birthday words

8 words which share a birthday with the OED

On 1 February in 1884, the first instalment of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published. Containing 352 pages of dictionary entries, it covered the words from A to Ant. 44 years later the first edition of the OED was finished, comprising 125 of these fascicles. To celebrate the anniversary of the OED, we’ve drawn together some […]

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dictionary press

The compilation of dictionaries: are we there yet?

Dictionary projects can famously, and sometimes fatally, overrun. In the nineteenth century especially, dictionaries for the more recondite foreign languages of past and present (from Coptic to Sanskrit) were compiled by independent scholars, enthusiasts who were ready to dedicate their lives to a particular project. This may make for an exhaustively comprehensive text; it doesn’t […]

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