Outcry as children’s dictionary ditches nature words for hi-tech ones

Famous authors protest as Oxford Junior Dictionary replaces words such as acorn, catkin and clover with broadband, app and analogue


It may be that our children pretty much learn to use an iPad before they can walk, and would sooner know how to download an app than tell the time with a dandelion but, as hi-tech terms such as ‘broadband’ and ‘cut and paste’ become a part of children’s everyday language, should we remove words like ‘acorn’ and ‘buttercup’ from their books to make way?


Yes, we should, it seems the powers-that-compile the Oxford Junior Dictionary have decided – to the fury of a group of famous authors, who’ve described the Oxford Junior Dictionary’s decision to cut around 50 words connected with nature and the countryside as ‘shocking and poorly considered’. The 10,000-entry children’s dictionary is aimed at 7-year-olds, and its new edition sees the loss of catkin, cauliflower and clover to make way for cut and paste, broadband and analogue.

The 28 authors, including Margaret Atwood and Michael Morpurgo say they’re ‘profoundly alarmed’ by the changes, according to The Guardian.

‘We recognise the need to introduce new words and to make room for them,’ the authors say in a letter to the dictionary’s publishers, ‘and do not intend to comment in detail on the choice of words added. However, it is worrying that, in contrast to those taken out, many [of the newly added words] are associated with the interior, solitary childhoods of today. In light of what is known about the benefits of natural play and connection to nature, and the dangers of their lack, we think the choice of words to be omitted shocking and poorly considered.’

A spokesperson for Oxford University Press has replied that ‘all our dictionaries are designed to reflect language as it is used, rather than seeking to prescribe certain words or word usages’.

But what do you think about the changes to the words used? Let us know in the comments below.


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