top of page

Good News for Essex Girls

'Essex girl' removed from Oxford University Press dictionary following campaign that the term is offensive.

Essex Girl jokes have been doing the rounds in the UK for many years - none of which are publishable in OGN Daily. Even the people of the Congo know of them. Too much, they cried! So, the expression “Essex girl” has been removed from a dictionary used to teach English after women from the county who campaigned against the 'offensive' term.

According to the Oxford University Press, “Essex girl” was previously defined as “a name used especially in jokes to refer to a type of young woman who is not intelligent, dresses badly, talks in a loud and ugly way and is very willing to have sex.”

It has now been removed from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, used to teach non-native English speakers, after a campaign group called the Essex Girls Liberation Front said using the expression was “very offensive”.

The phrase will still be included in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) because its publishers claim it is a “historical dictionary”, in which nothing is ever taken out. The OED defines “Essex girl” as a derogatory and contemptuous term for a “type of young woman, supposedly found in and around Essex, and variously characterised as unintelligent, promiscuous and materialistic”. However, the OED does change its definitions and, indeed, has just redefined 'woman' following claims it was sexist.

The campaign was instigated by the author Syd Moore, who referenced “Essex girl” at an International Women’s Day conference. She told the Times: “Women from the Congo had heard of the Essex girl. I thought, ‘It’s time to get rid of this once and for all’.”

How does the expression go? You can take the girl out of Essex but....


OED Redefines Woman: The OED launched a gender review last autumn of its dictionary and thesaurus entries in response to 'user feedback' including a petition on the word 'woman' which gathered over 30,000 signatures. The petition called on Oxford University Press, the dictionary’s publisher, to remove all phrases and definitions that “discriminate against and patronise women” as well as those which “connote men’s ownership of women”. More

bottom of page