Gathering wild words

Words shape our history and our story. They provide the tools that allow us to create the narratives that define us. Words are important because they give us the ability to capture the colour and nuance that connects us to the world that we inhabit.

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

blackberry has become Blackberry; with technology trumping nature

And nowhere is this so important as the words that children learn as they grow up. That is why it really matters for the natural world that 50 words about nature and the countryside have disappeared from the Oxford Junior Dictionary back in 2012. Generations have grown up discovering these wonderful words helping to deepen our connection with the natural world.

The Oxford Junior Dictionary has replaced many words that we took for granted such as catkins, conkers, otters and kingfishers with cut and paste and broadband; even blackberry has become Blackberry.

How can you look after nature if you can’t name what you’re trying to save? This is why the Trust is getting behind the campaign by naturalist and writer Robert Macfarlane in his quest to collect as many words as possible that describe nature. His latest book, “Landmarks”, out earlier this year, began to catalogue the huge range of regional and very local words used to describe the diversity of nature – the land, the topography, species etc.

Writing in the autumn issue of the National Trust Magazine, Robert is asking Trust members and supporters for their own nature words to include in the paperback issue of Landmarks, out in spring 2016.

Robert Macfarlane, says, “If you have place- and nature-words of your own, please do send them to me and the National Trust. When Landmarks is published in paperback next year, I plan to include a new glossary, which collects and shares these new wild words.”

We’ve already had some great contributions from our members and supporters. If you have any words that you’d like to submit please send them, by the end of October, to


4 thoughts on “Gathering wild words

  1. Pingback: A collection of wild words | National Trust Press Office

  2. Reblogged this on carefullycurated uk and commented:
    To quote Macfarlane, “The outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual, symptoms of the shift in our culture and language”. Between 1970 and 2010 the area in which British children were permitted to play unsupervised shrank by 90%, according to a 2012 National Trust report.

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