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It's a popularly held idea that dictionary writers have the power to add words to the lexicon when in fact language is changed the by people who use it and the job of the lexigrographer is to take note. Our own Ben Zimmer revisits this distinction in a look at a recent episode of the Nickelodeon teen comedy "Sam & Cat," in which the titular characters take on word-creation head on.  Continue reading...
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"Selfie" Wins as Oxford's Word of the Year

The word selfie, defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself," took over social media this year, so it's no surprise that it has also been named as Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries. Selfie beat out other contenders like bitcoin, binge-watch, and of course, twerk. Read the full announcement from Oxford University Press here.
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Happy Dictionary Day!

October 16th is National Dictionary Day, commemorating the birth of the great lexicographer Noah Webster. Celebrate by delving into our archive for articles about Webster and the world of dictionaries. A sampling: "Noah Webster at 250: A Visionary or a Crackpot?," "The Case for Dictionary Day," "The Birth of Webster's Dictionary," and "Dictionary Day and the Quest for All-American Words."
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When Oxford Dictionaries announced that its quarterly update would include the word twerk, a term for a particularly racy dance style, the timing was perfect: just two days earlier, Miley Cyrus had created a sensation by "twerking" at MTV's Video Music Awards. The result, writes our own Ben Zimmer, was a "perfect lexicographical storm."  Continue reading...
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This week there has been a raging language debate about the inclusion of the non-literal meaning of "literally" in various dictionaries. But is the whole controversy overblown? Here is a roundup of online reactions.  Continue reading...
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Should "Tweeps" Be in the Dictionary?

Library Journal and Oxford University Press recently organized a webcast entitled "Should 'Tweeps' Be in the Dictionary?" about the role of dictionaries in the age of social media. Participating were Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at OUP, Henrietta Thornton-Verma, reviews editor at Library Journal, and Ben Zimmer, executive producer of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus. Read Thornton-Verma's recap here, and listen to the full webcast here.
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Judges, like the rest of us, turn to dictionaries when they're not sure about the meaning of a word. Or they turn to dictionaries when they're sure about a word's meaning, but they need some confirmation. Or they turn to a dictionary that defines a word the way they want it defined, rejecting as irrelevant, inadmissible, and immaterial any definitions they don't like.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 113 Articles