There are so many dictionaries and so many words. How do new words appear in dictionaries? If a a word appears in one dictionary can it be counted to be a dictionary word, an official one that anyone can use?

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    There is no law which says you cannot use a word which is not in a dictionary; if that is what you are asking. Lots of slang words, used everyday are not in dictionaries. But dictionaries do, to a greater or lesser degree, reflect a register of what the educated classes in society consider an acceptable way of speaking or writing. There are slang dictionaries too e.g The Urban Dictionary
    – WS2
    Nov 29, 2016 at 8:55
  • unfortunately that's not exactly what I was asking, maybe. Anyway... how does one know when to place a word into a dictionary. There are so many words that aren't in the dictionary, why so? Nov 29, 2016 at 9:01
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    The compilers of a new edition decide that a newly coined word has become sufficiently established to be worth including. Nov 29, 2016 at 10:02
  • related: On the duplicity of “peruse” see my answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 29, 2016 at 10:51
  • Different dictionaries have different editorial policies. There's lots of slang that will make it into one dictionary but not another. Some online dictionaries put things in right away, others (like the OED) want to see the word used over a number of years first.
    – Mitch
    Nov 29, 2016 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


I am not sure whether your question is on-topic, but "How our dictionaries are created" by Oxford Dictionaries explains:

Before adding a word to one of our dictionaries we have to see evidence that it is widely used in print or online. We tailor entries to suit the needs of the user: a dictionary for children at primary school level, for example, will contain words and definitions appropriate to that age group. (emphasis mine)

Obviously, they have lexicographers and language experts who are monitoring neologisms by means of reviewing corpus, user-generated content, and submissions by dictionary users.

As the above link explains, the dictionary is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Just because one dictionary listed a new word doesn't mean anyone can use it until it gets enough traction and popularity. For example, the word moobs (man + boob) has been newly listed in Oxford English Dictionary which was first recorded in 2001. Is it used by everybody? I doubt it.

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