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Ideas

The Word

Crowdsourcing the dictionary

A publisher turns to the masses for new words

To “crowdsource,” according to the UK-based Collins English Dictionary, is “to outsource work to an unspecified group of people, typically by making an appeal to the general public on the internet.” As this definition suggests, it’s a fairly new word; Collins added it to the dictionary three years ago.

As of last month, however, Collins has gone even further, adopting crowdsourcing not just as an entry in the dictionary but as a methodology affecting its future. Taking a page from its own book, Collins is now crowdsourcing the hunt for new words and phrases, calling on the public to submit suggestions at its website (collinsdictionary.com). The response so far has been robust: In the first two weeks of the initiative, there were 2,637 suggestions from more than 2,000 different users, according to Alex Brown, head of digital at HarperCollins.

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