OED and The Climate Connection: language recycling

OED and The Climate Connection: language recycling

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 third episode of the series, OED etymologist Tania Styles looks at the word ecocide, as well as the history of the now ubiquitous combining form eco-.

The OED’s earliest evidence for ecocide dates back to April 1969, when it appears in a local newspaper from Sandusky, Ohio in the United States. It’s used in an article about the United Auto Workers Union, who are lobbying the state governor to put laws in place for controlling air pollution. The union rep claims that air pollution causes five thousand deaths in the state every year, and his plea to the legislators is pretty powerful stuff: “At stake are the health and lives of thousands of citizens, who are innocent victims of our careless indifference”. He goes on to say that neglect of the pollution problem could be described as “ecocide—crimes against humanity by destruction of the environment”.

Source: Newspapers Online

“As combining forms go, eco- is an extremely productive one. The OED covers almost a hundred words formed from it, dating back to the early 20th century, and new combinations are appearing all the time.”

Tania Styles, OED Editor

Head to the full podcast to find out more about climate related words that have entered the OED, including the many that fall under eco-, comb. form, as well as those that are on our watch-list, such as eco-anxiety, eco-bling, and eco-cred.

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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