How are words removed from a dictionary?
Emotions, intentions, thoughts and ideas. We use language to pull abstractions out of the ether and transform them into concrete communication tools. How could we progress as a culture if we didn’t share a common understanding of popular words in the English language, such as book, friend, laugh, think, or often, or uncommon words like biblioklept, nauseous, or hirquiticke?
But that doesn’t mean the words aren’t old-fashioned. In 2021, nine words were removed from dictionaries or classified as “archaic”, “historic” or “obsolete”. The airfield, for example, has been determined to be no longer applicable to modern life because we collectively call aircraft landing fields “airports”. Similarly, “frutescent”, which refers to an object or person having the appearance of a shrub, was deleted from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, as was “frigid”, which was replaced by “frigid”. , more commonly used.
So who, exactly, makes the decision to remove a word from a dictionary?
The selection of dictionary words is left to lexicographers, who not only decide which words to remove, but also add new words and update definitions or changing pronunciations. Lexicographers are also responsible for adding new words. In 2022, for example, “demisexual” and “vaxxed” were new additions to the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as “humblebrag”, which was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Whether it’s the Oxford English Dictionary, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, or a digital-only version like Dictionary.com, each type of dictionary has its own process for deleting words. and this information is not always publicly available. While some dictionaries do not share the decision tree for word deletion, the American Heritage Dictionary deletes words created before 1755 that are only sporadically used in modern life.
When lexicographers delete a word from the dictionary, it does not mean that this word ceases to exist. It also means that we, collectively, have the power to influence the words that remain. If you want to return “skedaddle” to common usage, you better get there fast.
The truth is, it’s actually pretty hard for a word to lose its place in a dictionary. Lexicographers do not take word deletion lightly. When a word comes into question, dictionary editors embark on a rigorous examination of meaning, usage, and popularity in sprawling linguistic databases that span a variety of mediums. Often, words marked for removal from printed dictionaries are allowed to remain in online dictionaries. This process of eliminating print editions keeps dictionaries relevant and, frankly, portable. Without deleting words, we would need a wheelbarrow to move our paper dictionaries like the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains around 600,000 entries, or about half of all the words used in the English language.
Despite carefully executed procedures for adding and deleting words, dictionaries are not immune to errors. For a time, “redripening” appeared in most dictionaries as a single word, when it should have been cut off, as in a “red-ripening” strawberry.
The lexicographers behind some dictionaries even realized that competitors were taking over their content and marketing it as their own. The Oxford English Dictionary once included the bogus word ‘equivalence’, along with the made-up definition of ‘deliberate avoidance of official responsibilities’, so they could spot other dictionaries ripping off their copyrighted work. author.