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Submitting new words or uses to the 3rd edition of the OED

Would the above be a good new category for discussion posts? I would be interested in learning more about this process since I am currently reading a book that I believe has many "submissable" words.

For starters, could someone explain this comment, which I found on the "Contribute to the OED" page?

"(NB the OED does not need modern evidence for establishing usages at present only illustrated (in the unrevised sections of the dictionary) into the nineteenth century)"

I find this statement confusing and ambiguous. Does this mean that "present usages" (of words already illustrated by 19th-century quotations) are not needed for the unrevised sections of the OED? In other words, does this rule out submitting quotations from the 20th and 21st centuries for words in the 2nd edition of the OED?


  • Hi @MaryNovik,

    I think it is an oblique reference to the massive corpora Oxford use which are constantly scraping text from all sorts of places in the hope of identifying linguistic changes. The digital age makes it much easier to do this so the chances are that the lexicographers are already monitoring usage of words and senses in current circulation (but which haven't made it into the OED yet). The main difficulty for the dictionary editors is ante-dating words and senses using older print-only evidence.

  • Hi @MaryNovik,
    Thanks for the suggestion for a category - it might actually be a very interesting one.
    I can't promise we'll have it, but I will discuss it with the team here.
    Nice profile picture, by the way :)
    Have a great weekend!

  • @Simone Is this is an example of a new word that could be submitted to the OED (since it was missed in 2011)? As mentioned above, I'd like to hear more about the guidelines for "submissible" words.

    The word is "greenlit", just spotted on BBC News:

    'Margot Robbie is planning a new TV series, which will give Shakespeare plays a "female perspective".... "I'm in a lovely position where I can actually help get things greenlit so I want to work with people who we haven't seen yet."'

    In the OED3 (2011), only the verb and the noun are listed. Those Aussies--ahead of the lingogame again!

  • Hi @MaryNovik,

    I don't think there are any criteria about what words are can be submitted (other than being in English usage) but in terms of where the editors require most assistance from the general public, non-digital is rightly where the focus is.

    If you are wondering why a word from 2011 is not yet in the OED, the answer may simply be that there is not yet enough evidence of sustained usage to warrant inclusion.

  • @MaryNovik,

    In addition to what has already been said, please do submit any words that you think may be worthy of inclusion. You can do this either by using our online submissions form or by emailing [email protected]

    If it's helpful at all, our FAQ page has a little more information about the best ways to contribute. You can find this here. Bringing new words to our attention is always appreciated, even if we do not have enough evidence to include them immediately.

  • edited March 2018
  • Thanks @joughtred, those links are very helpful. I have a book that has some early 17th-century writings that do not seem to be quoted in the OED. (I’ve used the OED advanced search form to check.) Before I begin to check individual words in the OED, and submit them, is there a way of confirming that no one else is beavering away at the same book? It would be a waste of time for two people to be working on the same book.

  • Hi @MaryNovik. I can certainly check this with our editorial team for you. Stand by!

  • Hi @joughtred It looks as if OEDUK has finally spotted my e-mail asking the same question, which I sent a while ago, in which I give more details about the book. They say they will reply, although it may take some time.

  • I did finally get in touch with the historical words branch of the OED and they have given me the go-ahead on the project I mentioned above. Thanks to all of you for your help.

    In the process of looking for information about recent work on the OED, I lit upon this gem:,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/index.html
    Has anyone else seen this? Comments?

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