How new words get entered into the dictionary?

New words are constantly created and used in the daily life. But they are not all in the dictionary, but how does it get entered in?

Every dictionary is updated each year by the editor and the research offices. A lexicographer is a real language observatory which spots, captures and selects the new words, the new expressions and also the new sense of variations that have appeared for some words.

Here is the list of all the people who contribute to updates of the dictionary.


A lexicographer is a ‘A writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge’ (Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language, 1755). He analyzes corpus and context, does research in other dictionaries, and is specialized to know all the different meanings of a word.


Documentation concerns all the work done to track all the new words or the new uses of the same words. When we read, listen to radio, watch TV, or even when we are talking to someone, we observe new words uses or neologisms (the coining or use of new words). The person in charge of documentation will track down new expressions, phrases and new word classes (for instance when a noun is employed as an adjective). The lexicographer can use any support, ranging anywhere from the Internet to a shopping catalog, which is a helpful source of daily terms.

Once the choice of the new words is done, they can be submitted to the editorial office.

The new words

New words are appearing each day. Most of the time, they are relevant to IT technology. As they are in English, all the other languages have to decide how they will use this word. They have two choices, the first one is to keep the English word, and the other one is to ‘translate’ it. For example, in most of the languages the word ‘blog’ hasn’t been translated and if it has it has just been translated slightly to match with the languages’ rules. An example of this is that French Canadians will pronounce ‘blog’ the same way English speakers do but they will write it ‘blogue’ instead.

The editorial office

Just like any company or democratic council, all the lexicographers meet to discuss about the new orientation they will take. They debate about the new words to insert into the dictionary and decide which ones can ‘apply’ for their entry. To be qualified to be entered in the dictionary, the word has to be coherent and reliable. Once everybody agrees, the word can appear in the next edition of the dictionary.

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