From Rag-Time to Woot, Oxford English Dictionary Celebrates 100 Years

Word lovers rejoice! The Concise Oxford English Dictionary celebrates a century with the announcement of its 12th Edition today. Angus Stevenson, in a post titled “A century of defining our language“, announced the history making edition on the Oxford Dictionaries blog today.

According to the blog the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (COED for short) is a “different kind of dictionary,  one that sought primarily to cover the language of its own time.” The editor of the first edition, Henry and Hank Fowler, were quoted as saying, “we admit colloquial, facetious, slang, and vulgar expressions with freedom, merely attaching a cautionary label”.  Perhaps this is why the COED has survived even into the digital age. I must admit, I found reading through the blog very interesting. It is amazing when you consider how much the English language has changed in a relatively short amount of time.

The COED continues today to move with the times. You can now find words like cyberbullying, domestic goddess, and even woot! New meanings to old words have been added as well. For instance, the word friend now has the added meaning of  “a contact on a social networking website”.

The COED has devoted a page entirely to the centenary edition which can be found here. There is a lot of information about the history of the COED. You can watch a short video (embedded below) which provides a “quick history” of the COED.

You can even send a “photographic journey of words through the century” e-card. Pictured below you will see one of the e-cards from the year I was born. I had to laugh when I saw that year’s phrase was neighborhood watch! They must have known I was coming.


I am glad to see that the Concise Oxford Dictionary is doing what it can to stay relevant in this technology driven world.  In a world where we are inundated by words, I think sometimes we underestimate the affect words can have. They can inspire, inform, and motivate. I believe that words, carefully chosen, can have a lasting positive impact on their reader, otherwise, I wouldn’t bother to write. I leave you with this quote from Mark Twain, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”


Published by

Darrin Jenkins

Darrin is an IT manager for a large electrical contractor in Louisville KY. He is married and has 3 kids. He loves helping people with their technology needs. He runs a blog called Say Geek!