How We Research our Canadian Dictionaries

Setting a New Standard of Excellence in Canadian Dictionaries

We all use Canadian English every day: when we order a pizza "all-dressed", hope to get a "seat sale" to go south during "March break", or "book off" work to meet with a "CGA" to discuss "RRSPs". Language embodies our nation's identity. The loggers of the west coast, the wheat farmers of the Prairies, the fishermen of the Atlantic provinces, the trappers of the North; Canada's Aboriginal peoples, its British and French settlers, and the more recent arrivals, whether they came from Ukraine, Italy, South Asia or elsewhere--all have contributed to making Canadian English unique, and the dictionary thus reflects the great sweep of Canadian life.

With one of Oxford’s Canadian dictionaries in hand, Canadians are able to see their language, and themselves, accurately and comprehensively described. For example, the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, contains over 2,000 distinctly Canadian words and meanings, more than any other Canadian dictionary, covering every region of the country. Whether you call your favourite doughnut a jambuster, a bismarck, a Burlington bun, or the more prosaic jelly doughnut may depend on where you live in Canada, but they will all be found in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.

Of course, our Canadian references are not just dictionaries of Canadian words; their entries combine in one reference book information on English as it is used worldwide and as it is used particularly in Canada. Definitions, worded for ease of comprehension, are presented so the meaning most familiar to Canadians appears first and foremost. Each of these entries is exceptionally reliable, the result of thorough research into the language and Oxford's unparalleled language resources. Five professionally trained lexicographers spent five years examining databases containing over 20 million words of Canadian text from more than 8,000 Canadian sources of an astonishing diversity. Inuit Art Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Canadian Business, and Equinox; the work of writers such as Jack Hodgins, Sandra Birdsell, David Adams Richards, and Pierre Berton; daily and weekly newspapers from across the country; and, of course, the Canadian Tire catalogue--all find a place in the evidence of Oxford’s dictionaries. The lexicographers also examined an additional 20 million words of international English sources.

For many Canadians one of the more puzzling aspects of writing is trying to determine whether to use the American spelling or the British spelling. Should it be "colour" or "color", "theatre" or "theater", "programme" or "program"? By examining our extensive Canadian databases, our lexicographers have been able to determine which, in fact, is the more common spelling: colour, theatre and program. Favoured Canadian pronunciations have also been determined by surveying a nationwide group of respondents.

Oxford's thorough research has also ensured that new words that have recently appeared are well-represented. So if you're someone who puts on your "bicycle shorts" and "blades" over to the gym to do some "crunches" for your "abs" followed by work on your "lats", "pecs" and "delts", finishing up with a "step" class, because you're afraid that being a "chocoholic" who loves "comfort food" will affect your "body mass index" and you want to avoid "yo-yo dieting", you'll find all these common words in Canadian Oxford Dictionaries.