For students and teachers
Resources for students and teachers
If your school or library subscribes to the OED, learn about remote access here. If your school or library do not subscribe, many of the resources below allow free access to the relevant OED entries.
How do dictionaries work?
- We expel some of the common myths and misconceptions about the OED and how words are added in our worksheet on myth-busting the OED
- Do you know how words enter the dictionary? Learn more here or take a look at our inforgraphic on OMG
- How are words that are already in the dictionary revised? Learn about the work of our revision editors when they revise an entry
What do dictionary editors do?
- Learn the stories of the OED‘s first editor, Sir James Murray (1837–1915)
- Learn from Katherine Martin, Head of US Dictionaries, about how our editors ensure American English is reflected in the OED
- Hear from Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations, about her work researching and documenting the pronunciation of words
- Listen to Danica Salazar, World English Editor for the OED, about drafting dictionary entries for the many varieties of English spoken all around the world
- Illustrator Nick Sharratt shares his favourite word here and an illustration to go with it in this interview
- Author Frances Hardinge shares her five favourite words
- In this interview, Geraldine McCaughrean tells us about favourite words, the naming of heroines, tackling similes and metaphors, and more
- Did you know that J. R. R. Tolkien once worked as an OED editor? Find out more
- Winnie the Pooh may have been bothered by long words, but plenty of words from A. A. Milne’s books have made their way into the OED. Learn more in this blog post
- Our children’s dictionary team have some wonderful resources on their Roald Dahl dictionary available
- What is your birthday word? Find out which words originated during your birth year.
- We’d like to hear about the unique expressions used by children and young people. Can you submit a word to the OED?
- Can you create a book spine poem just like writer and editor Stan Carey?
- What is your favourite food word? Learn about the lexical history of your favourite food, and have a go at baking it just like food writer Kate Young here.
Using the OED in schools, colleges, and universities
Please note that many of the resources below require full access to the OED. If your school does not subscribe to the OED, many public libraries do, and you may be able to log in using your library card number. Learn more about remote access here.
For all ages
For Key Stage 3 (US grades 6-8)
For GCSE and A-Level (US grades 9-12)
- Women in science lesson plan: this cross-curricula lesson plan instigates exciting discussions about women in science, using the OED
- Using the OED in assignments: this guide highlights some of the ways the OED and Historical Thesaurus might benefit future assignments and essay-writing
- Key stage 4, 14-16 (US grade 9-10 ) lesson plans
- AS and A-level, 16-18 (US grade 11-12) lesson plans
For university students
- ‘Gender and genre: students, researchers, and the OED’ blog piece
- Tara Williams, “The OED in the Literature Classroom,” Pedagogy 18.3 (2018): 547-550.
External resourcesTeachit: resources using the OED
Teachit English is a resource website for teachers, with over 23,465 pages of classroom worksheets, PowerPoint presentations and activities, written by and edited by professional secondary English teachers. Free members to the site can access thousands of PDFs, while subscribers can adapt the resources and download 25 teaching packs. Teachit English is part of AQA Education.
Key Stage 5 (Free PDF)
- Gender and Language Change
- An Introduction to Language Change
- Exploring New OED Entries
- Exploring Neologisms
Tes: resources using the OED
Tes is a global online community of educators, offering blog posts, industry news, and a variety of free and paid-for teaching resources.
Free resources from Tes (created by Oxford University Press):
- How to use a dictionary
- Age 11-14 adjectives worksheet
- Age 11-14 homographs & spelling worksheet
- Age 11-14 prefix and suffix worksheet
Video & audio resources
Balderdash & Piffle: broadcast in 2007, this major BBC series looked at words and their stories, and appealed to viewers to help update the OED.
The Guardian- Inside the OED: this podcast (with text version) explains the processes involved with adding new words to the OED, and the impact modern technology has on the dictionary today.
The OED story
A long and rich history: as the last word on words for over a century, the OED‘s is a fascinating story of language and change.
Messrs Murray and Minor: learn the stories of the OED‘s first editor, Sir James Murray (1837–1915), and one of its most famous and unusual contributors, Dr William Minor (1834–1920), from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
If you would like to share your experiences of using the OED in lessons, you can do this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.