Creating a children's dictionary

Dictionaries are compiled by selecting words from a corpus. A corpus is a word bank or database compiled from a wide number of print sources – books, magazines, newspapers, journals. Words are scanned into a database and then sorted by frequency of use. Oxford University Press can monitor language developments and provide evidence on how words behave using the Oxford Children’s Corpus that holds a huge collection of children’s literature, children's writing, and select websites.

The Oxford Children’s Corpus is constantly growing and currently stands at about 100 million words. It is also a useful tool to compare how language for children is used differently from language used by adults. Recent analysis has shown that most frequently used words used by children and adults can be quite different. For example, children’s top adjectives will include strange, beautiful, safe, bright, wild, rich, and evil; adult top adjectives include public, political, social, economic, international, military, financial, and legal.