Oxford University Press (OUP) is offering primary and secondary schools in the UK free access to the online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to mark the dictionary’s 90th anniversary.
Michael Proffitt, chief editor of the OED, said: “Offering schools free access to OED Online fulfils a long-standing ambition to introduce the dictionary to people at an earlier stage of their educational careers. By explaining and showing how words have been used over time, OED can help us understand and interpret all kinds of historical documents and literary works studied in school. But the OED also can have a deeper, more personal impact beyond the classroom.
“How we speak and write doesn’t just determine the success of our educational careers; it helps shape the course of our lives. Our vocabulary, our articulacy, our ability to express ourselves and to understand and respond to others – these are some of the most significant factors in how we are perceived and how we influence those around us.”
When OED editors visit schools the pupils quickly see that the dictionary is more than a historical dictionary, it’s a continuously updated record of English as it is now and contains colloquial or slang terms, he added. The earliest known occurrence of OMG, for example, appears in a 1917 letter written to Winston Churchill by a former head of the British navy.
Schools can access the dictionary, which will be free for the 2018/19 academic year, by registering on the OED website.