Tag: dictionary

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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What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus!

Language jokes for International Jokes Day

We love language and we love jokes, so it stands to reason that we love language jokes. We took to Twitter to try out some of our favourites, and asked the good people of the public to tweet us their own too. Below are our jokes, and a selection of the others that we liked […]

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raised hand

An OED editor answers your questions

We recently asked you to provide questions about lexicography and language for a Senior Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – and you certainly had a lot to ask. We’ve picked some of the best questions, and… here are the answers! in a bit of a dilemma. why was 'dilemma' spelled 'dilemna'? is the […]

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dictionary examples

How are dictionary examples chosen?

We often receive queries about the example sentences on OxfordDictionaries.com. Some people assume that they are written by the lexicographers who produce the definitions, but in fact they are chosen from real-life examples collected on Oxford’s corpora—vast databases of text drawn from many publications, websites, and other sources. Oxford takes an evidence-based approach to lexicography, […]

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murray children

Did you know that James Murray… had eleven children, all of whom helped in the compilation of the OED?

2015 marks the centenary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray’s work as a lexicographer is well known, but there was a great deal more to him than lexicography. We are therefore marking the anniversary with an occasional series of articles highlighting other aspects of his life […]

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Shorter OED

Did you know that James Murray… may not have been all that keen on the word ‘dictionary’?

2015 marks the centenary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Murray’s work as a lexicographer is well known, but there was a great deal more to him than lexicography. We are therefore marking the anniversary with an occasional series of articles highlighting other aspects of his life […]

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dictionaries creative

The Vital Spark: dictionaries and creative writing

I love dictionaries and thesauruses: they’re dazzling and thrilling and useful. I own a ridiculously large number (seven currently on my desk, though most of them are downstairs). I use them, for work and pleasure, all the time. But now Vineeta Gupta, Head of Oxford Children’s Dictionaries, has asked me a question about them that’s […]

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