COBUILD – authentic English for learners since 1987
We’re committed to helping learners use accurate, effective, and up-to-date written and spoken English. Authentic English as it is really spoken around the world has been at the heart of our publishing since the beginning – when the first Collins COBUILD Dictionary revolutionized dictionary publishing in 1987.
Why do teachers around the world recommend COBUILD dictionaries?
Watch our COBUILD video or read about what COBUILD means to find out.
What does COBUILD mean?
COBUILD means Collins Birmingham University International Language Database.
The COBUILD project was set up in the 1980s as a joint venture between Collins and the University of Birmingham, led by the pioneering linguist John Sinclair. The aim of the project was to compile the largest corpus of English available and to use it to write dictionaries and other reference books. A corpus is a large collection of English data taken from written and spoken sources.
COBUILD is a pioneering project for two key reasons:
1. The original COBUILD dictionary, published in 1987, was the first of a new generation of dictionaries for learners based on corpus evidence, that is, on actual evidence of how English is used around the world, rather than on lexicographer intuition.
2. COBUILD also introduced a radical new defining style using full-sentence definitions – these definitions are easy to understand as they resemble a teacher explaining a word to a class. This means that in COBUILD dictionaries learners of English see words in natural contexts, with typical collocates and constructions.
What’s in the Collins Corpus?
The Collins Corpus of English brings together words from written and spoken English to provide evidence of how English is really used. It now contains over 4.5 billion words taken from websites, newspapers, magazines and books published all over the world, and spoken material from radio and TV and everyday conversations. It is updated every month to ensure that Collins captures new words and meanings as they enter the language.
Find out more about how our editors and lexicographers use the Collins Corpus.
How does Collins COBUILD help you learn English?
Did you know that around 90% of written and spoken English is made up of approximately 3,500 words? The Collins Corpus tells us which these words are, and helps us ensure that when you use a COBUILD dictionary, you can be sure that you are learning the words you really need to know.
With COBUILD and the Collins Corpus, dictionary writers no longer had to rely on their own intuition about English, but could check millions of words to see which senses of a word might be the most frequently used, which words go together naturally, how words are really used in sentences, and to find authentic examples of English in use.
The Collins COBUILD dictionary range for learners of English is the ultimate learner-friendly resource for reliable, accurate and fast learning of English. COBUILD is also at the heart of many of our self-study practice books for learners of English, ensuring that you study the language that matters today.
If you are studying English as a foreign language, Collins ELT products are the perfect companions for your journey.
Find out more about the history of Collins COBUILD products
Read about the Collins Corpus
Browse Collins ELT products
Browse COBUILD Dictionaries
Download free COBUILD worksheets