The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has always based its entries on real evidence of how words have been used throughout the history of English.
Regular appeals were made to the public to help collect this evidence and send it in to the dictionary.
The OED’s chief editor, Sir James Murray (1837–1915), received and replied to thousands of letters. So many that the Post Office installed a pillar box outside his house on Banbury Road.
Today, using new tools and technology, the staff of the OED continue to make public appeals to gather evidence of the English language as it is used from around the world.
Discover more about the history of crowdsourcing the dictionary and how you can get involved today.
Image: James Murray in his Scriptorium in Oxford
Professor Charlotte Brewer, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford
Dr Stephen Turton, University of Cambridge
More about the Oxford English Dictionary today
In partnership with the Oxford English Dictionary