Fave Word Not in the Dictionary? Chill

Editing or writing something and can’t find a word in Merriam-Webster, American Heritage, or the Oxford English Dictionary? Don’t freak out and don’t (necessarily) delete it.

Some slang words (fleek, Brexit, and unicorn–in the sense of a unique individual–to name a few), industry-specific terms, and obsolete words may not be found in conventional sources. But does that mean you should hit backspace? Read on:

From the Macmillan Dictionary blog:

Sometimes you’ll see a word you’re not sure of, so you look it up in a dictionary – and lo and behold, it’s missing. You may conclude it’s not a ‘real word’, or maybe not even a word at all. But this is premature.

Most words that people look up but fail to find in a dictionary are words – they just don’t happen to be in that dictionary.

This is especially likely with rare, obsolete, technical, slang, and very new words.

No English dictionary includes every single word – not even the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is a historical reference work that records the English lexicon from its earliest days, but it doesn’t rush to add new and emerging usages, preferring to wait a few years to see if they become more established in the language. Nor does the OED – or any other dictionary – include every word from the many sublanguages, dialects, and specialist lingos: this would be an impossible task.

Continue reading here.




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