It’s time for a new Canadian English dictionary

Twenty years ago, Canada had five professional-quality English-language dictionaries: Collins, Gage, Nelson, Oxford and Penguin. None of them has been meaningfully updated since 2004. Language changes rapidly. The longer these tools are left out of date, the more profound the impact on editors, authors, books and the Canadian identity. We deserve an English-language dictionary that keeps pace with the changes in language. We deserve a dictionary that is inclusive and addresses important issues, such as reconciliation, equity and diversity.

Since 2011, Editors Canada has tried to get work started on an up-to-date Canadian English dictionary. Over the years, we’ve explored creating a totally new dictionary or updating one of those five existing ones. We lined up a team of lexicographers to do the updating.

Recently we met with several dictionary publishers and we’re exploring the potential of working jointly with one on a new dictionary.

The time for a new Canadian English dictionary is now.

Call for volunteers

Before we can get started, we need to assemble a strong team.

This is a unique opportunity to take part in a historic project that will have a lasting impact on the Canadian English language and identity for years to come.

We are currently recruiting volunteers for two important roles. We require volunteers to prepare grant materials. Once grants have been secured, these two positions will turn into paid positions with the expectation/opportunity that the lead editor may become the chief editor and the grant writer has the option to become a member of the editorial team.

Lead Editor

  • Work closely with the grant writer to write funding applications for the project
  • Assist with choosing a base dictionary
  • Assist with the scope of the project and deliverables (publication formats)
  • Develop an editorial plan that includes preliminary estimates of editorial weeks/hours
  • Identify job profiles for members of an editorial team, e.g., Canadianisms, abbreviations, definitions, IT aspects
  • This volunteer should have lexicographical experience or be able to demonstrate their awareness of the problems of practical lexicography

Grant Writer

  • Work closely with the lead editor to write funding applications for the project
  • This volunteer should have experience writing successful grant applications for both government and private funders

How to apply

Please send a letter of interest and resumé to Heather Buzila at

Application deadline

May 31, 2022

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