Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers When I use a word

The very last word

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:535
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist (
  1. Oxford

    What is the last word in the dictionary? Easy to answer, you might think. But there is a problem. We talk blithely about “the dictionary,” as if there was only one. But there are many, even among monolingual dictionaries of English. And they don't all end with the same headword.

    Samuel Johnson's dictionary (1755) ends with zootomy, “dissection of the bodies of beasts.” Not a great effort, but then he wasn't going for broke. Collins English Dictionary (sixth edition) makes a better stab: Zyrian, the language spoken by the people of the Komi, in the erstwhile Soviet Union. Zyrian belongs to that curious group of languages, the Finno-Ugric (one of two branches of Uralic, the other being Samoyed). …

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