Do words get removed from a dictionary when people stop using them?

The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is generally regarded as the single most comprehensive record of the English language to exist. Included in this work are many thousands of words considered completely “obsolete” by lexicographers. You see, in something of a Hotel California of linguistics, once a word has made it into the [...]

By |2018-04-23T11:41:07+00:00April 23rd, 2018|Dictionary, Lexicography, Words|0 Comments

The Grimm Brothers’ Other Great Project Was Writing a Giant German Dictionary

In 1837, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the brothers most well known for their eponymous collection of fairy tales, were kicked out of their home. They had been working as professors at the famous University of Göttingen, Germany, when the King of Hanover, who ruled the area, demanded they and other academics swear an oath of [...]

Anthony Burgess’ Legendary Dictionary of Slang Lives

The reaction most readers have to beginning Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange is: What are half these words? That’s because much of the novel is written using Nadsat, a dystopian teenage subculture language fusing British rhyming slang and Russian that Burgess created for the book. But that wasn’t Burgess’ only foray into the [...]

By |2017-06-08T13:28:26+00:00June 8th, 2017|Dictionaries, Language, Lexicography, Slang|0 Comments

Democratizing the Oxford English Dictionary

The original Oxford English Dictionary, edited by the great lexicographer James Murray, was never meant to be a mere dictionary. Murray wanted to account for every sense of every word in standard English—an astonishingly ambitious aim, given the size and fluidity of the language. The OED’s originators, Murray observed in 1900, were seeking “not merely [...]

Indigenous dictionary project aims to keep endangered languages alive

A project in development by the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation aims to revolutionise the teaching and learning of literacy in indigenous communities across Australia. The ALNF’s Living First Language Project aims to revitalise and preserve endangered indigenous languages, while simultaneously teaching literacy in English and first languages. Over three years, the platform will be [...]

This man has spent 35 years compiling entries for a 132,000-word online slang dictionary that you can search for free

“Slang dictionaries have always been done by mad people who sit in rooms and make books out of them,” explains Jonathon Green. For 35 years he’s been doing just that: collecting slang words and compiling them into dictionaries. The biggest of these—Green’s Dictionary of Slang, published in 2010—launches online today (Oct. 12). The online version [...]

Documents that Changed the World: Noah Webster’s dictionary, 1828

It’s twilight time for printed dictionaries, whose word-filled bulk weighed down desks, held open doors and by turns inspired and intimidated writers searching for the perfect word. Lexicography — the making of dictionaries — has gone digital. Though a few are still published, the dictionary’s time as printed, bound documents is almost up. In this [...]