Oxford Word of the Year 2021

Discover why VAX is 2021 Word of the Year, and read a report into the language of vaccines.

600,000 words … 3.5 million quotations … over 1000 years of English

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find present-day meanings in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

The OED started life more than 150 years ago. Today, the dictionary is in the process of its first major revision. Updates revise and extend the OED at regular intervals, each time subtly adjusting our image of the English language.


  • OED Labs – Our goal is to further develop the OED’s offering to actively support the needs of academic research as they evolve in the coming years. Take a look at new ways to access OED data, including the OED Researcher API and the OED Text Visualizer.
  • Video guides: Take a look at our short guides to help you get the most out of your OED access.
  • Interactive graphic: Whether by sudden invention or unhurried evolution, words come into the English language in all manner of ways. The Oxford English Dictionary’s mission is to record all of these word stories, capturing their development as they continue to unfold.
    Our interactive journey on how OMG made it into the OED explains all.

OED graphic



The OED today

  • What’s new: every three months updates revise existing entries and add new words
  • The OED today: discover the 21st century OED and find out more about the revision programme, how to read an entry, and how to use the online OED
  • Aspects of English: informative and entertaining commentaries on the English language, written by dictionary editors and specialist authors
  • Historical Thesaurus of the OED: now fully incorporated into OED Online, the Historical Thesaurus of the OED arranges the dictionary by meaning. Trace the changing language of the material world, the mind, and society, from the Anglo-Saxon period to the modern day
  • Video shorts: a series of videos now live examines how the OED is produced behind the scenes

OED resource centres

History of the OED

The OED in print