Oxford Dictionaries sort-of apologises for laughing at feminists

At least they've moved on from "rabies isn't all bad"

Definition of word sorry in dictionary

If you missed it on Friday, the venerable institution that is Oxford Dictionaries disappointed us all by responding to a fair question with some “lol banter” about feminists:

Followed by an explanation of why “rabid” is a totally good word you guys, what’s the big deal here:


The example sentence was a very poor choice, but their response to the tweet was the real issue. The sentence was taken from real usage (however crappy), but their tweet was a deliberate effort to poke fun at feminists. That’s always a bad idea for a brand, and their social media managers should know better.

Unsurprisingly, the tweet inspired a load of gross misogyny from the eggs of the internet, which we won’t give publicity to. Michael Oman-Reagan (who posted the question), people who agreed with him, people tweeting Oxford Dictionaries and people writing about the issue (including us) all got it, and Oxford pointedly stayed out of the firestorm they caused, cheerfully tweeting about sheep while the man who asked a completely legitimate question was deluged.


Finally, more than a day later, someone with slightly more understanding of PR tweeted four semi-apologies that didn’t address most of the issue:


Most of this is what they should have said in the first place. All they needed to do was reply thoughtfully and considerately to Michael, explaining that example sentences come from real usage and don’t represent the opinions of the dictionary company, but they could see how that one might be construed and would review it. The end. No story.

Instead they decided to have a good old laugh at those rabid feminist types, with their absurd requests for equality and their politely-phrased Twitter queries. And look how that went for them. Two days later, they’ve gained a load of fans from the – dare I say it – rabidly misogynist sector of the internet, and disappointed a lot of people who’ve respected them since primary school days. Good going.

Still, when was the last time you paid money for a paper dictionary? Guess they’ve got to get your attention somehow.


Main image: iStock/aga7ta

Holly Brockwell, Editor
About Holly Brockwell, Editor 230 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.

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