Who puts a word in the dictionary? - FactzPedia

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Who puts a word in the dictionary?

 

Who puts a word in the dictionary?


The name of someone who puts together words in a dictionary is a lexicographer.

A lexicographer will monitor the usage of a new word, across printed material, online, and spoken word.

Firstly they collect information about where the word was written, printed, or heard alongside a contextual meaning.

From this, a database of research is created and researchers actively seek the use of the word across different backgrounds.

Once adequate evidence has been collated and a solid meaning is found, the word can be put forward to be printed in the latest edition of the dictionary.

The Oxford English Dictionary is updated four times a year.

As we define it, our mission as a dictionary is to document words as they are actually used. In the world of dictionaries, this approach is called descriptivism. The opposite is prescriptivism, an approach that frames the dictionary in the role of a gatekeeper and is based on prescribing (setting rules for) how words should or should not be used. While prescriptivists might say a slang term is “not a real word,” descriptivists will look at the same term and do research to see if and how it’s commonly used in order to describe (document) its use. (Read more about this in the next FAQ, “That’s not a word.”)

We must acknowledge that, historically, dictionaries have been gatekeepers to nonstandard words and usage (especially those that originate in non-dominant groups), but we at Dictionary.com take very seriously our role and responsibility in ensuring that our dictionary reflects and respects the language of people as they use it.

Our lexicographers will be the first to tell you that documenting language in this way is a “messy business.” It takes a lot of research—and patience.

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