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How The Oxford English Dictionary Words Are Chosen

How The Oxford English Dictionary Words Are Chosen - Each edition builds upon the epic and magisterial first edition, which was eventually published in 1928, though it had been worked upon since 1857.

Now, like then, the editors rely heavily upon a large team of unpaid volunteers, who send in on either slips of paper – the traditional method, still used by some – or email examples of what they think are new words.

Newspapers, specialist periodicals, manuals, novels and a whole host of publications are scoured. Now, less obvious language sources, such as television scripts, cookbooks and song lyrics are used as possible sources.

The OED, unlike other dictionaries, is marked by its fairly conservative decisions about which words make it into its pages; slang or "buzzwords" that appear frequently but – over a short period – in popular culture often don't make the cut.

"Staycation", for instance, the portmanteau term coined by travel companies during the recession to describe holidays taken in Britain, has not so far made it into the online version of the OED, even though rival publications have acknowledged the word.

John Simpson, the chief editor, said: "We're looking for a range of evidence over a period of time, often as long as ten years. Appearing many times in just one newspaper would not probably count.

"We're looking for evidence of widespread currency."

How The Oxford English Dictionary Words Are Chosen


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