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Oxford Dictionaries for Children has once again teamed up with BBC Radio 2's 500 WORDS – the nationwide competition to find the most talented young writers!

Oxford Dictionaries for Children has once again teamed up with BBC Radio 2's 500 WORDS – the nationwide competition to find the most talented young writers!


Insights into children's language

A record number of over 130,000 children entered the BBC Radio 2 500 Words competition this year. The 2017 Children’s Word of the Year is trump, picked because of its huge increase in use by entrants writing in this year’s competition.

Donald Trump took office as President of the United States in the same week that the 500 Words competition launched and, as a result, the word trump appeared a total of 2,296 times in the 2017 stories, as a noun (a trump), a proper noun (Trump the name) and as a verb (trumped, trumping). The proper noun Trump showed the biggest increase, from 112 mentions in 2016 to 1,959 this year - that’s an increase of 1,628%!

Children have also been playing with blends, suffixes and prefixes to create new words improvised around Trump. In fact there are more than 100 instances of words such as Trumplestiltskin, Trumpyness, Trumpido, Trumpeon and Trumpwinningtastic.

Gaming words appear in the 500 Words stories every year – this year it is the craze for Pokémon GO that had the largest impact on kids’ imaginations (with Pikachu coming 9th in the list of most-mentioned famous people or fictional characters). The term social media has increased in frequency from 2016 to 2017, with YouTube taking the top spot and Instagram overtaking Facebook this year. Superheroes was another big theme this year, with a host of heroic animals such as Super Kitty, Super Pig and Super Pug, as well as some inventive superhero characters including Puddle Jumper Boy, Cloud Boy, Lady Literacy and Hygge Woman.


For detailed analysis, read the Oxford Corpus Summary Report

Scroll down for more fascinating insights into children's language from the 2017 competition!


Political language



Gaming



Superheroes



Social media



Animals and creatures



All infographics © Oxford University Press. Artwork © Pádhraic Mulholland.