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Yesterday we heard from University of Illinois English professor Dennis Baron on the announcement of new words added to Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Here is another perspective, from Baltimore Sun copy editor John E. McIntyre, who argues that journalists reporting on new words often misconstrue the purpose of dictionaries. Continue reading...
It's back to school, and that means it's time for dictionaries to trot out their annual lists of new words. Dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster recently released a list of 150 words just added to its new Collegiate Dictionary for 2011, including cougar, a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man, boomerang child, a young adult who returns to live at home for financial reasons, and social media -- if you don't know what that means, then you're still living in the last century. Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

Woot! New Words from the Concise OED

The latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (not to be confused with the giant OED itself) has announced some of the latest words to make the cut. Among them are jeggings, mankini, retweet, sexting, and woot. Don't know what these words mean? Check out the announcement of the new words on OUPblog, and read more about the century-old dictionary here.
When people talk about whether a word is "in the dictionary," have you stopped to think about what "the dictionary" actually means? In the following excerpt from her new book How to Read a Word, Elizabeth Knowles takes readers on a brief tour of the dictionary and its historical authority, informed by the likes of Voltaire and Samuel Johnson. Continue reading...
Earlier this month, lexiphiles were glued to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, as Sukanya Roy of South Abington Township, Pennsylvania won a grueling 20-round contest. As the drama unfolded on national television, the viewing audience got to hear some incredibly obscure words, along with their definitions, all read aloud from a great American dictionary now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Continue reading...
The Supreme Court is using dictionaries to interpret the Constitution. Both conservative justices, who believe the Constitution means today exactly what the Framers meant in the 18th century, and liberal ones, who see the Constitution as a living, breathing document changing with the times, are turning to dictionaries more than ever to interpret our laws. Continue reading...
The OED has put ♥ into the dictionary, along with such internet terms as OMG. At least that's what the headlines are screaming, and commentators world-wide have been praising or damning the dictionary editors' decision to go both graphic and digital. Continue reading...
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