The Lost Words

In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acorn, adder, bluebell, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, and willow. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.