I noticed that not long ago (in June) Oxford University Press changed the server that hosted what they used to call "Oxford Living Dictionaries". I used Oxford Living Dictionaries a bit in the past. It's not the official OED (Oxford English Dictionary), but instead described itself as an up-to-date online dictionary that would be reflective of contemporary English as it's spoken both formally and colloquially.

The dictionary content in Oxford Dictionaries focuses on current English and includes modern meanings and uses of words.
Oxford Living Dictionaries (how it described itself).

I used to cite this dictionary as "Oxford Living Dictionaries", as that's what it was called. However I don't think this name exists anymore. Whereas on the old page the top home button was titled:

Oxford Living Dictionaries

and was hosted at:


, the same dictionary's top home button is now titled:

Powered by OXFORD"

and is hosted at:


The Wikipedia article on Oxford Dictionaries describes the change like this:

In June 2019, the free-of-charge monolingual dictionaries of English and Spanish were moved to Lexico.com, a collaboration between OUP and Dictionary.com.

And in the FAQ of the Oxford dictionary the FAQ gives the following information:

Q.Why has Oxford Dictionaries changed?
A.We have partnered with Dictionary.com to ensure we give users the best possible experience.

Q.Why has the URL changed?
A.We have recently partnered with Dictionary.com, to offer our free English and Spanish dictionary content through www.lexico.com rather than en.oxforddictionaries.com.

Q.What does Lexico mean? What is it?
A.Lexico is the new domain for our free dictionary content, hosted by Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com is licensing the content from our English and Spanish Oxford Dictionaries sites (lexical content, non-lexical content, and blog content) and using it to develop and build a new consumer website, freely available around the world, as a separate site to dictionary.com.

Q.Is the dictionary content the same, who writes the definitions?
A.All definitions and translations are written by Oxford lexicographers.

dictionary.com is based on Random House Unabridged Dictionary, and I have a feeling that this change has been a financial decision rather than anything else. But anyway, I've seen people citing this Oxford dictionary as "Lexico" or "lexico.com". I was confused at what this Lexico actually was, and quite a few seem to have been also, if the FAQ is anything to go by. Seeing as this is just a domain name, and the dictionary is still created by Oxford lexicographers and the Oxford University Press, it should be cited Oxford dictionary or something along those lines rather than "Lexico" or something similar? I used to cite it as Oxford Living Dictionaries or OLD, distinguishable from the OED, but I don't think that name exists anymore. How should it be cited now? If it's just cited "Oxford Dictionary" or "Oxford Dictionary online" it'll be even more prone to being mistaken for the OED, which was even a problem when it was the Oxford Living Dictionaries.

Edit: My question has been identified as a duplicate. I have read through that "duplicate". The question merely alerts people that the site that hosted what used to be called Oxford Living Dictionaries is now at the lexico.com domain name. The answer is directed to the potential effects the change might have on links for existing citations. As to my question on how we should cite this dictionary now that it's changed url and is no longer called by its former name there are only a few comments in that question that touch on this subject. One user suggests to simply cite "Lexico", as that is the "source". Another user disagrees with this (and I concur). I think a dictionary definition should be cited with the name of the dictionary the definition is from. Lexico is NOT a dictionary. I was wondering if there was going to be consensus on this or if we're just going to go our own ways according to individual preference.

  • 2
    Related: english.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13240/…
    – Gio
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 7:12
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of RIP Oxford “living” Dictionaries
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 9:05
  • I am now using Lexico (Oxford). I refuse to use just Lexico because I doubt many people have any idea what that is—and it sounds like a random non-authoritative source to me. Putting Oxford in brackets makes it clear what the real source is, even though it's no longer the name of the site. Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 9:19
  • @JasonBassford But then wouldn't it be unfair to not mention Dictionary.com along with Oxford?
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 10:44
  • @NVZ As dictionary.com shows definitions from Random House Unabridged Dictionary, sometimes I simply I just simply cite that. Is that wrong? I thought we should be citing the dictionary the definition came from. If anyone wants what the actual url source is, it's included in the answer when you link the dictionary.com url.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 10:55
  • All those citations, attributions, acronyms: EOD, OED, OD, OLD, ODO, OMG do we have to change them all? kinda implies today we should no longer use the acronym OLD (Oxford Living Dictionaries) or OD. I even said as much in a comment.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 10:56
  • @JasonBassford I agree that citation should not just have "Lexico" present, but not just because of the confusion factor you mention, or that a reader may find no authority in it due to the name "Lexico" being relatively unknown. Out of principle I think if you're going to give a definition from a dictionary I think it's right you give the name of the dictionary that definition came from. Lexico is not a dictionary.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 10:59
  • (Formerly Oxford Dictionaries) since June 26 :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 11:05
  • @JasonBassford I'm not so sure about that. I think Lexico is just fine, unless we want to make the citation requirements more stringent than they already are. We allow just abbreviation and the same argument could be applied to the those: Only people who know what O.D.O. and O.L.D. stood for in the first place would ever know that they were by Oxford by virtue of the abbreviation alone.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented Jul 13, 2019 at 16:43
  • @Tonepoet Maybe it's not a bad idea to write what the initialism stands for in full the first time it's mentioned, even if it's obvious to users here. I've often written Longman and AHD, but I'm pretty sure I've written Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and American Heritage Dictionary first. I know it's a slight inconvenience, so I'm not sure people will be happy with that. I just do it generally out of habit, I actually don't know most of the rules.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 0:24
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA While these 2 are very related questions, I don't think the proposed duplicate asks the exact same thing.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 11:32
  • It's rather odd that OLD is now defunct. Age catches up with us all. sigh
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 17:00
  • @Lawrence For now, I guess it's just the English/Spanish dictionaries. The other language dictionaries are still, ahem.. living.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Jul 14, 2019 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


I would suggest we use the name they would prefer, that is Lexico.

However, I would advise against editing old posts just to rename the previous citations.

I previously used ODO or Oxford Dictionaries Online and later OLD or Oxford Living Dictionaries in my answers. I would prefer to use the name as it is on the site at the time.


Since we are talking about Oxford University Press, you presently have a couple of options here:


The first is if you are citing the website directly, you should cite Lexico by name. This is easy, relatively painless and adequate under our given policies. Do not change old citations that were valid at the time they were made. Not only is it inconvenient, but a citation should reasonably represent the resource the post author actually checked, just in case there is variance.

That same possibility for variance is also why we should discontinue use of the old names and abbreviations for posts made after the change. Inaccurate citations can be an inconvenience to other people, if for any reason the information changed between, causing possible confusion as to which source said what and when without deeper scrutiny, which would be best to avoid where possible.

Also, if you want to invoke the Oxford name, then I suppose Lexico by Oxford might be adequate. In this case Lexico is like the title of a book, and Oxford is the sole entity authoring the entries, and this is as specific as we get in terms of authorship information.

However, dictionaries are only required to be cited by name in accordance to the principles outlined in The New Attribution Rules. Those also allows for abbreviation, if the abbreviation can uniquely identify the work, but I think L. is too vague and Lexico is short enough that it should not need to be abbreviated.

Going the Extra Mile, When Willing and Able

Speaking of which, thats leads into the other option: I take issue with citations to online dictionaries because their veracity is only as permanent as the website though and all websites are subject to untracable changes or even worse, going permanently offline. At that point, we lose the benefit of veracity because the citation is only as good as our faith in the poster to accurately report information. Given that approximately half of the purpose of citing sources is to allay such doubts, that is not an ideal situation, and we hope to provide answers of enduring worth.

However sometimes you can also find that an online dictionary shares its information with offline resources, and in those cases we can try to cross-reference and cite another source instead, if the relevant information is identical to that seen in the online entry. In the case of Oxford's dictionaries there are at least a couple of resources that I have seen:

(Sidebar: Take notice of the added preposition and word transposition in the title. The Oxford Dictionary of English [O.D.E.] is a distinct work from the Oxford English Dictionary [O.E.D.]. The O.D.E. is O.U.P's. largest single volume dictionary with full size print. The O.E.D. in its second edition normally spans 20 volumes (there are compact editions with shrunken text), and the third edition only exists online.)

Cross-referencing these books is a little more inconvenient, but for anybody willing to perform the extra effort, citing a printed textbook adds stability to the citation that a website could never hope to achieve, because unlike a website a book is exstistentially independent of both Oxford University Press's willingness and ability to maintain the work and the information contained therein.

However if you cite a book with multiple editions with multiple editions, then I would also recommend including some uniquely identifying information. In the O.D.E.'s. case, Something like (3rd ed.) or (©2010) can help distinguish the most recent edition from prior editions, and thus explain discrepancies which may arise as a result to anybody willing to go through all of the trouble.

An ancillery benefit to this is that offline dictionaries usually have a credits page with attribution to each member of the lexicography team, so this is also better in terms of giving credit where credit is due and validating the expertise exercised in the creation of the book.

If you have the New Oxford American Dictionary that might be worth checking too. Although I do not personally possess it, I do have good reason to believe that it is very similar to the O.D.E. in terms of content, the abbreviation is better known and the name is more distinct, which lessens the amount of potential confusion. Unfortunately, this will only be an option for those of us who do have direct access to it.

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