How would you decide?

If you compare any two current dictionaries, you will certainly find some new words that are in one but not the other.

This is because editors or contributors have made different choices about which words they think are important for their users, depending on their age, language proficiency, interests, etc.

The wants and needs of the user are therefore very important in dictionary design. Before a word is added to a dictionary we have to be sure that it is a ‘real’ word that has actually been used, but it is also important to consider how much it has been used, how useful it is, and who uses it, in what contexts.

Here is a new word that is being considered for inclusion in various dictionaries.

  • laze (lava haze) – a mixture of seawater and volcanic lava.

What criteria would you use to help you decide whether to accept it into one of the following dictionaries?:

Your task

In discussion with others, try to develop some precise criteria concerning frequency, range of sources, and general usefulness.

For more information about the word ‘laze’, see this Words we’re watching article.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University