As you are probably aware, our contemporary English content is now available through Lexico.com (https://www.lexico.com/en), and our old English dictionary site no longer exists.

As a result of this, this forum is now closed.

The English dictionary community team would like the opportunity to say a huge thanks to all of you who participated by posting questions and helping other community members.
We hope this forum was useful, and that you enjoyed being a part of it.

If you would like to get in touch with any OED-related queries, please write to
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And if you would like to contribute suggestions to the OED, please do so by visiting: https://public.oed.com/contribute-to-the-oed/

Thank you very much indeed, and good bye!
The community team

Words at Work

Can you help us to identify the words, phrases, and expressions particular to your workplace?

Has a server ever comped your desserts? What did the plumber mean when they said they were going to sweat the pipes? Did you pass the doctor’s Woolworth’s Test?

If you regularly carry a halligan as part of your kit, or spent this morning putting out shelf talkers, we would love to hear from you.

Although television dramas have made most of us familiar with terms such as ’you’re nicked’ (you’re being arrested or apprehended) or ‘code blue’ (bring the resuscitation kit), many words and phrases used by people at work lead to blank looks from outsiders, and slang especially can be harder to understand. Sometimes, that’s the point: you’d probably rather not hear your doctor describe someone as a gomer (that is, a difficult or disagreeable patient), and your veterinary friend may shy away from explaining DSTO (our sources tell us that it means ‘dog smarter than owner’). However, at other times, not understanding the words used in a trade just leads to confusion. Not everyone knows, for instance, that sweating the pipes is plumbing slang for soldering two pipes together. The OED already includes many terms from all kinds of trades and professions, but there are many more that will not yet have come to our attention– and that’s where we’re asking for your help. Whether you and your colleagues use terms that are specific to your workplace, or you’ve heard an expression and not understood it, we would love to hear about it!

So whether you’re a doctor or a journalist, a firefighter or a builder, a shopkeeper, teacher, plumber, marketer, or anything else, we would like to hear from you. Please use the form here to tell us about the vocabulary you use at work or have heard others use.

You can also join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #wordsatwork.

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