Wikipedia:WikiProject English Language

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Title page of Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the first comprehensive lexicon of English

WikiProject English Language

A WikiProject dedicated to improving Wikipedia's coverage of the English language, and to address prescriptivism and other biases in Wikipedia's articles on the subject.

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  • Welcome to the new WikiProject English Language! Harej (talk) 15:21, 3 June 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
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Major style guides[edit]

See Style guide and WP:Identifying and using style guides.

Forthcoming style guides[edit]

New and forthcoming style guides, as of March 2016:
  • The Write Style Guide for New Zealanders: A manual for business editing (Write Ltd; e-book ASIN B01BELGYLM; paper version, overpriced, available from; 2 February 2016) – This short book may be the only NZ-specific style guide
  • Garner's Modern English Usage (4th ed.; Bryan A. Garner; Oxford U. Pr.; ISBN 978-0190491482; 8 April 2016) – Formerly Garner's Modern American Usage, but now expanded and generalized, and revised with modern research. Also supersedes the concise edition, The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style.
  • MLA Handbook (8th ed.; ISBN 978-1603292627; 14 March 2016) – Derived from the MLA Style Manual of 2008, so this will not be a major update, probably mostly about online tools and citations. (This is used more than many people think; this ed. is the Amazon #1 best-seller in "Editing Writing Reference" category, and has been sold out, even against early pre-orders, since the release date, and still is as of early April.)
  • The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation (Bryan A. Garner; Chicago U. Pr.; ISBN 978-0226188850; 27 May 27 2016; @BryanAGarner on Twitter says electronic version will also be out that month, as an app). This is an update to an expansion of the Chicago Manual of Style sections on these topics, also written by Garner. This is the closest thing to a new edition of CMoS we're likely to see until at least 2017, but it will cover almost everything we care about.
  • New Oxford Style Manual (3rd ed.; Oxford U. Pr.; ISBN 978-0198767251; 11 May 2016) – For those who have not caught up on Oxford, this is the combined volume of the current editions of New Hart's Rules and New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and is a good way to save on the cost (if you already have the 2014 separate editions, you're all set, since they're the same text).
  • Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (2018 ed.; no ISBN issued yet; comes out mid-year as always) – This is released annually.
New and forthcoming usage dictionaries, topical encyclopedias, and special-interest guides:
  • APA College Dictionary of Psychology (2nd ed.; ISBN 978-1433821585; 18 April 2016)
  • Several updated volumes in the Oxford Quick Reference series of topical, encyclopaedic dictionaries (Oxford U. Pr.; despite the cheesy series title, these are 400–900 pp.):
    • Oxford Dictionary of Chemistry (7th ed.; Richard Rennie & Jonathan Law; e-book ASIN B015P7A35O; 28 December 2015; paper ISBN 978-0198722823; 21 March 2016)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Computer Science (7th ed.; Andrew Butterfield, Gerard Ekembe Ngondi, Anne Kerr; e-book ASIN B019GXM8X8; 28 December 2015; paper ISBN 978-0199688975; 1 April 2016; 608 pp.)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Architecture (3rd ed.; James Stevens Curl & Susan Wilson;; e-book ASIN B00YAT9ORW; 26 February 2015; paper ISBN 978-0199674992; 1 April 2016; 896 pp.)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Business and Management (6th ed.; Jonathan Law; e-book ASIN B019WSGCLG; 28 December 2015; paper ISBN 978-0199684984; 18 April 2016)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (3rd ed.; Simon Blackburn; e-book ASIN B015P7A0MU; 28 January 2016; paper ISBN 978-0198735304; 1 May 2016; 540 pp.)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Marketing (4th ed.; Charles Doyle; ISBN 978-0198736424; 1 July 2016)
    • Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearian Pronunciation (1st ed.; David Crystal; ISBN 978-0199668427; 1 June 2016; 780 pp.)
    • Various others were updated 2010–2015; most have titles beginning Oxford Dictionary of ..., though Amazon lists them as A Dictionary of ..., and some are Companion to .... The most obvious ones of project interest are English Grammar; Proverbs, Literary Terms, Reference and Allusion, Journalism, Media and Communication, Synonyms and Antonyms, Linguistics, Word Origins (J. Cresswell; 2nd ed.; 2010; not to be confused with Chantrell's Word Histories below, or English Etymolology by Onlion, Friedrichsen, Burchfield, 1966, or Hoad's Concise edit of the latter in 1993), Companion to Modern Poetry, Concise Companion to English Literature, English Idioms (J. Ayto, 3rd. ed.; 2010), Quotations, Quotations by Subject, Political Quotations, Theatre and Performance, Critical Theory, Modern Slang (2010; J. Ayto & J. Simpson; updates but severely shortens earlier work by Ayto), Foreign Words and Phrases. A few from before 2010 that will age well: Modern Quotations, Literary Quotations, Humorous Quotations, Euphemisms, First Names, Nicknames, English Surnames, Allusions [different authors than Reference and Allusion), Phrase and Fable [Knowles, not Brewer], Idioms (J. Siefring; 2nd ed., 2005; updated the 1999/2001 ed. by J. Speake; not to be confused with Oxford Idioms Dictionary for Learners of English by Parkinson & Francis, or the obsolete Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms [Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English, vol. 2] by Cowie, Mackin & McCaig), Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings, World Place-Names, Scientific Quotations, Concise Chronology of English Literature, American Political Slang, Word Histories (G. Chantrell; 2004), Slang (2003, co-author in common with Modern Slang; has 3x as many entries as MS], Reverse Dictionary, Catch Phrases, Concise Companion to irish Literature, Dates, Abbreviations [1998], New Words (1993; may be useful for neologism research). There are numerous topical ones for all the major humanities and sciences, and many more obscure ones.
  • (See also the Penguin Dictionary of ... volumes (Penguin Reference series); a few date to 2010–2015, though most are obsolete.)
  • The Christian Writer's Manual of Style (4th ed.; Robert Hudson; HarperCollins; ISBN 978-0310527909; e-book ASIN B01863JKGM; 12 July 2016) – "The standard style guide of the Christian publishing industry ... guidance on style questions related to religious writing" (largely follows Chicago, but has a usage dictionary that is 1/3 of the book).
  • The Routledge Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2nd ed.; ISBN 978-1138125667; 8 September 2016; list price US$225; 1232 pp.) – Given the price tag, probably something to get via inter-library loan.
  • Acronyms, Initialisms & Abbreviations Dictionary: A Guide to Acronyms, Abbreviations, Contractions, Alphabetic Symbols, and Similar Condensed Appellations (50th ed.; Gale Research; ISBN 978-1414488776; 4 April 2016; list price US$1784) – This is the huge multi-volume one. Something to look for a in a good library. Editions as recent as the 42nd (2009) can be had for under $100, and 2001 versions for just the shipping cost, and will still be useful.

Online tools[edit]

Free online dictionaries (many should be cited as the underlying source, with |via= giving the website presenting their database, per WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT):

  •'s list, which may have entries we don't include below
  • – meta-search of numerous online dictionaries at once
  • AHDictionary.comThe American Heritage Dictionary as a stand-alone site; probably more up-to-date than other sites using its entries, and this is the one to cite for information from AHD's database.
  • – A major UK dictionary, plus thesaurus, grammar guide, and machine translation. Publisher: HarperCollins. Dictionary has BrEng and AmEng definitions. Includes full-length material from Collins English Dictionary (UK), COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary (UK), and Webster's New World College Dictionary (US, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
  • (a.k.a. – has entries from The Random House Dictionary (US) database, as well as short versions from Collins English Dictionary (UK), plus often other works, including an etymological dictionary and (when applicable) a slang one
  • – fairly comprehensive, but the parts-of-speech information is lower quality for words like as and like than in Oxford's, and it otherwise isn't always as good, though sometimes has more specific definitions. Has both British and American in different tabs. Includes material from Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary and Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus. The latter material is much less reliable (intended for children and ESL learners, and some of its definitions seem prescriptive to an activistic level).
  • (formerly – seems to be from the same casual-English database as the Compact Oxford English Dictionary and OUP's other smaller volumes; this is not the OED (US$200/yr), and is missing most of the academic information and the more obscure entries. It has both British and American English in separate sections (linked to each other), and it is worth looking at both entries – sometimes they differ markedly.
  • OED.comOxford English Dictionary database (with more info than last print edition). subscription required to search, but results pages can be cited and viewed by all our readers without a subscription. E.g., here's the entry for the word cat. Unfortunately, the URLs for these have entry code numbers not words, so it's impractical to reverse-engineer additional entries.
  • – based on the Collegiate Dictionary, with short entries, and missing 300,000 words and much entry-specific material from their unabridged edition (subscription-only). Principally American, but notes some British usage.
  • – Macmillan Education (part of Springer Nature). Has both BrEng (default) and AmEng entries; change "british" in search-results URL to "american". Warning: The "open dictionary" stuff at the bottom of some entries is unusable WP:UGC material (forum posts).
  • – entries from Webster's New World College Dictionary (formerly Houghton Mifflin, now Wiley), The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), YD's own privately developed database, and (at the end) Wiktionary.
  • – Farlex; has entries from The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Collins English Dictionary (UK, HarperCollins), Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary (UK, K Dictionaries Ltd / Random House), and Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words (Diagram Group), and sometimes the Farlex Trivia Dictionary. However, some of its entries pull content from Wikipedia or Wiktionary; they have to be checked against our stuff before citing. In separate tabs, also provides special dictionaries:
    • medical: Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health (Saunders/Elsevier), Partner Medical Dictionary (Farlex), Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers (Saunders), The American Heritage Medical Dictionary, Mosby's Medical Dictionary (Elsevier), Collins Dictionary of Medicine, Collins Dictionary of Biology, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions (Farlex), Mosby's Dental Dictionary, Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
    • legal: West's Encyclopedia of American Law (Gale Group), Nolo's definitions by Gerald & Kathleen Hill (SPS? They's properly published two legal dictionaries, but this doesn't cite one specifically and seems to draw from their website), Burton's Legal Thesaurus (McGraw-Hill), Collins Dictionary of Law
    • acronyms: from (which may be UGC)
    • idioms: Farlex Dictionary of Idioms, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs, Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms, Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Endangered Phrases (Skyhorse Pubg.)
    • encyclopedia and topical dictionary entries, including (when available, and probably others depending on search terms): The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (Columbia U. Pr.), Computer Desktop Encyclopedia (Computer Language Company), Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, Collins Dictionary of Sociology, Free Online Dictionary of Computing (, possibly UGC), The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979, Gale Group), Allusions – Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary (Gale), and some trivial stuff like Bedside Dream Dictionary (Skyhorse Pubg.)
  • − definitions from Random House Unabridged Dictionary (1997 version, as of January 2021). Also has a minimalistic style guide written by Infoplease staff. Publisher: FEN Learning.
  • – independent (Good Word Guide LLC) usage dictionary, but might use the lexical database of another company; uses Windows character encoding, so things like née may show up as "n?e" or the like in a Mac, Linux, or mobile browser. Iffy as a reliable source.
  • Various law-specific ones:
  • Various medicine/genetics/biotech-specific ones:
  • See also List of online dictionaries.

Language-related search:

  • Corpus of Global Web-based English (GloWbE) at Brigham Young University – Can be used to search for phrases, including replacement of words with grammatical morpheme variables like everyone 's a NOUN [1], as well as wildcards, proximity (collocation), and country limitations or comparisons, including combinations (e.g. US/CA). The documentation is rudimentary and confusing. Takes some experimentation to figure out. The corpora are downloadable.
  • News on the Web Corpus (NOW) at Brigham Young – Similar to the above, but constrained to news publications; has fewer features, but adds a date-range search.
  • Google Books Ngram Viewer – A blunt and easily-abused instrument, it will pull results from books that Google has indexed, from 1800 to 2000 (default) or 2008 (optionally), or 2009 (with separate corpora). Will compare multiple strings as N-grams, but they are comma-delimited and commas cannot be escaped so cannot be used in the search strings. It also refactored many similar results (especially to eliminate punctuation differences). Furthermore, major discrepancies can be detected between its separate and combined corpora (e.g. a usage that shows up as dominant in general may appear secondary in both the separate US and UK corpora, a result for which there is no current explanation). A further problem is that data after 2000 is spotty and potentially misleading (this may be why it defaults to a 2000 high-end cutoff date). The corpora are freely downloadable and actually go up to 2012, so a better tool could be developed for accessing and analyzing the data.

Forthcoming entries:

  • Google Books search tool
  • Google News search tool
  • Google Scholar search tool
  • The Wikipedia Library pages on access to language and literature journal searches
  • List of major blogs and forums on English language usage (not usuable as sources, but may help to find them)

Related materials:

Related WikiProjects[edit]

Sister project links[edit]

Featured articles[edit]

Former featured articles[edit]

Featured lists[edit]

Good articles[edit]

Former good articles[edit]

Did you know? articles[edit]

Main page featured articles[edit]

Main page featured lists[edit]

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