Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Time for a new (but not ‘New’) Fowler

  • Robin Straaijer (a1)

Is English usage changing more rapidly than it was before? Judging by the decreasing time between editions of ‘Fowlers’ it would seem so: thirty-nine years between Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926, from here on MEU1) and Gower's second edition (1965, from here on MEU2), and thirty-one years between the latter and Burchfield's The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996, from here on NFMEU). This led Manfred Görlach to write in his review of NFMEU that ‘[t]imes change, and we (and usage) change with them. A new edition of Fowler's classic book is thus in order every thirty to forty years’ (Görlach, 1997).

Corresponding author
Hide All
Allen, R. (ed). 1999. Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
British National Corpus. University of Oxford. Online. Available HTTP: <>. (accessed 28 May 2015)
Burchfield, R. 2000[1996]. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press.
Busse, U., and Schröder, A. 2010. ‘How Fowler Became ‘The Fowler’: An Anatomy of a Success Story.English Today 26(2), 4554.
Butterfield, J. 2007. Oxford A–Z of English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Butterfield, J. 2015. Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Economist. 1997. ‘Burchfield's Moden English Usage,’ February 1.
Follett, W. 1966. Modern American Usage: A Guide. London: Longmans.
Fowler, H. and Fowler, F. 1902[1908]. The King's English. 2nd edn.Oxford: The Clarendon Press.
Fowler, H. 2010[1926]. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press.
Görlach, M. 1997. ‘The New Fowler's Modern English Usage.English World-Wide 18(2): 304306.
Gowers, E. 1965. A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press.
Greenbaum, S. and Whitcut, J. 1988. Longman Guide to English Usage. Harlow: Longman.
Heffer, S. 2010. Strictly English: the correct way to write… and why it matters. London: Random House Books.
Lamb, B. 2010. The Queen's English and how to use it. London: Michael O'Mara Books.
Oxford English Corpus. Oxford University Press. Available HTTP: (accessed 28 May 2015
Peters, P. 2004. The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Peters, P. 2006. ‘English Usage: Prescription and Description.’ In Aarts, B. and McMahon, A. (eds) The Handbook of English Linguistics (759–780). Oxford: Blackwell.
Pickett, J., Kleinedler, S. and Spitz, S. (eds). 2005. The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Rooney, A. 1997. ‘Pardon my English.’ Buffalo Evening News, 4 February.
Sayce, K. 2006. What Not To Write: a guide to the dos and don'ts of good English. London: Words at Work.
Sheidlower, J. 1996. ‘Elegant Variation and All That.’ The Atlantic Monthly, December.
Straaijer, R. 2014. The Hyper Usage Guide of English (HUGE) database. Leiden University. Available HTTP: <>.
Straaijer, R. forthc. ‘A Perspective on Prescriptivism: Language in reviews of The New Fowler's Modern English Usage.’ In Prescription and Tradition in Language: Establishing standards across time and space, edited by Percy, Carol and Tieken-Boon van Ostade, Ingrid. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Tieken-Boon van Ostade, I. 2010. ‘The Usage Guide: Its Birth and Popularity.English Today 26(2), 1423, 44.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed