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06/04/2013 08:26 am ET

6 Dictionary Mysteries You Can Help Solve

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You may think the dictionary reflects the official pronouncements of some all-knowing authority from on high, but in fact, it represents how words have been used by actual people out there in the world. Getting a word or a particular meaning of a word into the dictionary depends on documented examples being found of people using it in various texts throughout history. The Oxford English Dictionary, the most comprehensive, respected source on English, has a long tradition of collecting evidence from volunteer members of the public. In the old days, volunteers would copy down quotations from sources that contained examples of particular word usages and mail them in to the dictionary editors. These days anyone who wants to help can submit examples online at OED Appeals.

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