OED and The Climate Connection: speaking youth – to power

OED and The Climate Connection: speaking youth – to power

The Climate Connection (#TheClimateConnection) is a new podcast series from the British Council which explores the relationship between the climate crisis and language education. In partnership with Oxford University Press, and featuring a selection of our Oxford English Dictionary editors, the podcast explores the origins of climate-related language, in both English and other languages.


In the second episode of the series, OED Editor Rosamund Ions looks at the ways language has been used to engage the public in the debate over climate, and how metaphors, analogies, and storytelling are used by environmentalists to convey their message. 

One of the many new terms we’re currently considering for inclusion in the OED is school strike. It’s a term that’s been applied to various protests staged by teachers, parents, and students. There’s evidence for this term going back to at least the 19th century, and the Google Books Ngram viewer, which gives a graphic representation of the way usage of words varies over time, suggests that there was actually a peak in usage around 1971.

It’s fairly transparent in meaning, which is why it may not previously have been considered for inclusion in the dictionary. Yet it’s probably thanks to Greta Thunberg and her fellow school strikers – who in turn sparked the global #FridaysForFuture hashtag and the climate strike movement of the same name – that it’s come to have a more specific meaning that may merit a dictionary entry. Read more on how entries are added to the dictionary here

In the language of climate change, we find “The Greta Effect”, or “The Attenborough Effect”, where the names of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough are used to modify the noun “effect” to indicate the different ways in which each of them has had an effect on public awareness of the climate emergency.

Rosamund Ions, OED Editor

Head to the full podcast to find out more about climate related words that have entered the OED, including greenhouse effect, and greenhouse gas, as well as those that are on our watch-list, such as school strike and degrowth.

You can listen and subscribe to the podcast in the following ways:

Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts – just search for ‘The Climate Connection’ and subscribe, or paste the RSS feed URL into your podcast platform: https://feeds.captivate.fm/the-climate-connection

Listen on Spotify: http://spoti.fi/3vUC3xp

Listen on Apple: http://apple.co/3eEss8p

Listen on Google: https://bit.ly/3y4gAUG

For more on climate change research from Oxford University Press, Oxford Open Climate Change is a broad reaching interdisciplinary journal that aims to cover all aspects of climate change, including its impacts on nature and society, as well as solutions to the problem and their wider implications.


The opinions and other information contained in the OED blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.

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