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  • How Do Words Get Into The Dictionary?

    Have you ever wondered how a word gets into the dictionary? Who decides what words are included and which ones aren’t? How old does a word need to be before it’s allowed in? Does it need to be in common usage? What even constitutes a word?!

    Luckily the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) commissioned us to create an interactive showing exactly how they decide what words make it into their world famous dictionary.


    The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the authority on the English language. It includes more than 600,000 words from over 1000 years of English. Perhaps surprisingly, despite its size and long history, the OED is regularly updated with adjustments to existing entries and new words being added all the time.

    To help them demonstrate the process behind exactly how words are added to the dictionary, the OED approached us to create an interactive that illustrated the journey of a single word from coinage to published dictionary entry. The OED had a varied shortlist of interesting words but the one that they decided on was OMG. For those not in the know, OMG is an abbreviation of ‘Oh my god’ (although gosh or goodness are sometimes used).


    The interactive website we created features a parallax scrolling style that takes users on a journey of discovery starting with where the word originated, how it became so popular and why it’s so important that it came to be included in the dictionary. You can try it for yourself here.

    Daniel Braddock, Content Marketing Manager at Oxford University Press who publish the Oxford English Dictionary said

    “It’s been a pleasure to work with Enigma. They worked hard to try and visualise, and bring to life, a concept that existed nowhere but in our heads. No easy task!

    They have been incredibly accommodating when dealing with a shifting brief, and have also been very understanding and responsive when eradicating potential issues. I have no hesitation in recommending Enigma to anyone who wants to conceive a way-above-average creative campaign”.

    To find out more about similar projects you can visit our Work section. If you have a web or interactive project of your own that you’d like to talk to us about, contact us.