Macmillan Dictionary gets an illustrated update

07 June 2016

Macmillan Dictionary has recently undergone its largest update since its move online in 2009, adding almost 400 new words and meanings and introducing images for the first time.

The most notable change is the addition of photographs to a range of words, initially focussing on colours, fruit and vegetables, animals and natural phenomena. Early illustrated entries include aardvark, jade, lightning and rhubarb. The move towards a more visual dictionary brings another level of information for language learners, aiding comprehension and adding to features already offered by the dictionary, such as language games and BuzzWords, the latter describing currently trending words.

The new words added in this latest update are drawn from a range of areas of modern life. The foodie revolution has brought previously specialist ingredients into the spotlight, giving us samphire and tabbouleh alongside the word cheffy to describe the results of this continuing trend and its recipes and techniques. Terms referencing dietary needs or choices have also made an appearance for the first time, like freeganism for someone who collects food that restaurants and supermarkets throw away, and free-from to describe products tailored for those with food allergies. Other additions include abbreviations IIRC, TBH,ATM as well as suffixes -preneur, -tastic and -appropriate.

This update also brings in entries from other major world Englishes, with terms added from the lexicon of Australian and Indian English, and a special focus this time on South African English. With help from the Dictionary Unit for South African English at Rhodes University, the Macmillan Dictionary team has been improving the definitions of the existing South African English words and adding new entries slip-slops, platteland, koeksister, songololo and many more.

Commenting on the revisions, Macmillan Dictionary Editor-in-Chief Michael Rundell said:

“Keeping a dictionary up to date involves more than just adding new words and meanings. In recent years, we have revised our definitions of words such as marriage and meeting to reflect social or technological changes, and for this update, we’ve made numerous similar changes. Our old definitions for fax and cassette, for example, described these objects perfectly well, but did not make clear that these are ageing technologies that are no longer widely used. We’ve fixed that, and we have also provided fuller and (we hope) more accurate definitions of autism and Asperger’s syndrome, reflecting our improved understanding of these conditions. Changes like these are less headline-grabbing than shiny new words, but this is still an important part of the work of maintaining a good dictionary.”

Notes to Editors:

Macmillan Education is one of the world's leading educational publishers, operating in over 120 countries worldwide. We publish ELT and school curriculum materials in print, digital and online formats to suit the needs of classrooms around the world, and we support teachers by offering the training they need to deliver the best experience to their students. For more information, visit

The award-winning Macmillan Dictionary is available free online with a host of features. As the English language evolves, the dictionary and thesaurus are constantly updated with new words and definitions based on analysis of a wide corpus of English texts so learners can always rely on the dictionary’s accuracy and relevance. The site features a blog by authors, teachers and linguists; a crowd-sourced dictionary; games and the latest buzzwords. For more information, visit and

Media contact: Laura BennettT: +44 (0)207 014 4210

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