The Australian National Dictionary Centre at the Australian National University in Canberra is a major centre for lexicographical research in Australia. It is jointly funded by the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand. The Centre conducts research into Australian English and provides Oxford University Press with editorial expertise for its Australian dictionaries.
The founding director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre, W.S. (Bill) Ramson (1933–2011), was one of several researchers and academics in the 1970s who saw the need for a general Australian dictionary. In the late 1970s, based at the Australian National University in Canberra, he began research on a specialised work, a dictionary of Australianisms based on historical principles. The dictionary would be an Australian version of the Oxford English Dictionary, recording the history of Australian words. After several years of data collection a publishing contract was signed with Oxford University Press (Australia) in 1983, and Ramson and his team began work on the editing process. The trials and tribulations of this process are outlined in Ramson’s book Lexical Images (OUP, 2005).
The Australian National Dictionary Project became the Australian National Dictionary Centre with the signing of a contract between Oxford University Press and the Australian National University in 1988.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre's major research project is the Australian National Dictionary. The project seeks to find English words and meanings that have originated in Australia, that have a greater currency in Australia than elsewhere, or that have a special significance in Australian history. The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1988 and contains some 10,000 entries. The second edition was published in 2016 and contains 16,000 entries.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre produces a number of monographs resulting from data collection from regional sources: glossaries covering Tasmanian, Western Australian, Queensland, and South Australian words, along with monographs about specific sub-genres of Australian English such as Aboriginal English, military slang, and the language of early Australian gold miners.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre edits a number of dictionaries for Oxford University Press, including the Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, and school dictionaries and thesauruses.
W.S. Ramson was Director from 1988 to 1994. Bruce Moore was Director from 1994 to 2011. Sarah Ogilvie was Director from January to June 2012. The current Director, Amanda Laugesen. was appointed in 2012.
The Centre also edits Australian Oxford dictionaries for Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand.