How a new word enters an Oxford dictionary

Oxford University Press has one of the largest and most wide-ranging language research programmes in the world. Our most important resources are the Oxford English Corpus and the Oxford Reading Programme. The Corpus consists of entire documents sourced largely from the World Wide Web, while the Reading Programme is an electronic collection of sentences or short extracts drawn from a huge variety of writing, from song lyrics and popular fiction to scientific journals. It's based on the contributions of an international network of readers who are on the lookout for instances of new words and meanings or other language changes.

We continually monitor the Corpus and the Reading Programme to track new words coming into the language: when we have evidence of a new term being used in a variety of different sources (not just by one writer) it becomes a candidate for inclusion in one of our dictionaries. For every new dictionary or online update we assess all the most recent terms that have emerged and select those which we judge to be the most significant or important and those which we think are likely to stand the test of time.

 

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