Labelling our datasets


Labelling our datasets

Oxford Languages datasets have defined sets of labels to help our users to understand the full context of the word, such as where the word is spoken and in which situations it is usually used.


Register labels


Items with register labels indicate typical usage. Here is a list of register labels used in our English dictionaries:

archaic You might find archaic words in some old-fashioned or historical contexts, such as films set in the past or religious books, but probably not in ordinary English, unless they are used to give a literary or humorous effect.
dated Dated words are old-fashioned, but have been used within the last 100 years and may still be used today by some older people.
derogatory People use words that are derogatory to be deliberately critical or insulting.
dialect Dialect words are only used in a particular area of a country, not the whole country. They are not part of standard English, which means, for example, that you wouldn’t use them in an essay.
euphemistic Used as a polite or gentle way of indirectly referring to something that is unpleasant or embarrassing.
figurative A figurative word has a meaning that is not literal, but does relate to the literal meaning of the word.
formal Formal words are found in contexts such as official or legal documents, and even people with good knowledge of English may not be sure what they mean.
historical Used to describe something that existed in the past, but is no longer part of the modern world, such as suits of armour or serfs.
humorous Used when someone is trying to be light-hearted or amusing.
informal Used when speaking to friends or family and when chatting online but not at work or in serious writing such as news reports.
ironic You use an ironic word to mean the opposite of its literal meaning, normally when you want to be funny. For example, if you call someone 'your lordship', you're probably being ironic because they are not a lord and you think they're pretentious.
literary Rather grand or old-fashioned language mainly found in serious fiction or poetry.
offensive Language that is likely to cause offence, whether the speaker intends it or not. Offensive words usually relate to things like gender, sexuality, race, or disability, which are inborn and can't be changed. Using offensive words is regarded as unacceptable.
rare Rare words are not often used but occasionally come up in serious writing or in word games and crosswords.
technical Only used in scientific and specialist contexts.
trademark A word that is registered as a trademark, though it may sometimes be used more generally, for example Band-Aid used to mean a sticking plaster or Kleenex used to mean a tissue.
vulgar slang Crude words used for body parts, bodily functions (such as going to the toilet), and things to do with sex. It's not considered polite to use these words, so you would probably only use them with your partner or close friends. Some vulgar words are swear words.
military slang Used by people in the armed forces, or in connection with military operations.
nautical slang Used by people who are in the navy or are keen on sailing.
non-standard Words marked as non-standard are commonly used but some people feel that they are bad English.
rhyming slang A type of slang in which a word is replaced by a word or phrase that rhymes with it, for example ‘tea leaf’ for ‘thief’ or ‘apples and pears’ for ‘stairs’. Rhyming slang is particularly associated with cockneys in London, though it is also used by some Australians.
theatrical slang Used by actors or people who are very keen on the theatre.

Region labels


Region labels (such as Australian, Canadian, British, US, etc.) tell you whether a certain word or sense is typically found in a particular area or variety of English.


Subject labels


Subject labels (such as Art, Ecology, Finance, Medicine, etc) tell you that a certain word or sense is particularly used in a specific field.