Want to be in the dictionary? Here’s your chance

If only there were a place for poor souls, who are out of the loop, to look up your turns of phrase?

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Sometimes at work, it can feel as though you share a secret language with your colleagues. As you speak your very own lingo, outsiders may give you blank stares. And that’s sometimes fun, but other times, it just means bad communication.

If only there were a place for poor souls who are out of the loop to look up your turns of phrase? Oh right, there is — it’s called the dictionary.

But — and this may come as a shock — dictionary entries don’t just magically happen. I know that growing up, dictionaries felt like something set in stone, probably written in 2000 B.C.E. by an enclave of hard-working elves. That is, however, not the case; dictionaries are actually assembled by real, human people, and they’re changing all the time.

Now, the folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary are asking for your help. In lieu of visiting all of your offices and taking stock of new turns of phrase (as the elves of yore would have done), they’ve posted an appeal online to learn about “the words, phrases, and expressions particular to your workplace.”

And they have some examples, to get your creative juices flowing:

  1. Among plumbers, sweating the pipes = soldering two pipes together (this one’s boring)
  2. Among doctors, a gomer = a bad, “disagreeable” patient (I’m listening…)
  3. Among vets, DSTO = Dog Smarter Than Owner (my personal favorite)

Do you have any colorful expressions that you and your coworkers use regularly? The Oxford English Dictionary is looking to collect them all — no matter your profession. Just fill out a quick form, and your word could (but probably won’t) end up in the dictionary.

Meanwhile, if you’ve been called a DSTO and I broke the news to you about what it meant, I’m sorry. But hey, it may not be an insult! Maybe your dog is the next Einstein. Time to send Pluto to work in your stead and have him rack in the cash.

And you can kill two birds with one stone: Your entry to the Oxford English Dictionary can be “ruff ruff”!

Alexandra Villarreal|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at avillarreal@theladders.com.