Dictionaries and children’s language research

You can trust every Oxford Dictionary to be up to date, relevant and engaging because all our dictionaries are powered by the Oxford Corpus, a unique database of children’s language, written by children themselves and by adults writing for children.

A corpus is a large database of words. The Oxford Corpus contains over 300 million words used in books and online sites for children and young teenagers. The Corpus also contains words used by over 500,000 children in the BBC Radio 2 500 Words story writing competition.

Our dictionary team uses the Oxford Corpus to research how children read and use language and to ensure our dictionaries are age appropriate and up-to-date as language usage changes. It also helps us identify new or re-emerging word trends like ‘hashtag’ and ‘minion’, words they find tricky to spell and common issues with grammar and punctuation.

BBC Radio 2 500 Words and Oxford Dictionaries for Children

The BBC Radio 2 500 Words competition asks children aged 5-13 to compose an original work of fiction in no more than 500 words. For the past five years, Oxford Dictionaries for Children has collected and analysed all of the words used by young writers in the competition; that’s over 200 million words.

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