This title is free for members for a limited time

The Dictionary of Lost Words is this month's Editors' Extra - a bonus audiobook, free for Audible members for a limited time. Start a free trial to access this member benefit. Try Audible today.

Get Your Free Audiobook

Listen with a free trial

1 credit a month to use on any title, yours to keep (you’ll use your first credit on this title).
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
Access to exclusive deals and discounts.
$16.45 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy Now for $42.54

Buy Now for $42.54

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions Of Use and Privacy Notice and authorise Audible to charge your designated credit card or another available credit card on file.

Publisher's Summary

In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. 

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others - that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men.

Please note: based on listener feedback, we have updated the audio with corrected pronunciations.

©2020 Pip Williams (P)2020 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What listeners say about The Dictionary of Lost Words

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,022
  • 4 Stars
    240
  • 3 Stars
    57
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    20
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    973
  • 4 Stars
    171
  • 3 Stars
    38
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    8
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    906
  • 4 Stars
    214
  • 3 Stars
    50
  • 2 Stars
    18
  • 1 Stars
    13

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Please re-record the epilogue so that ‘Kaurna’ is pronounced correctly

re-record the epilogue so that ‘Kaurna’ is pronounced correctly. For a book that is so focused on words and their importance, it’s embarrassing and grating to hear the name of the people indigenous to the Adelaide plains pronounced incorrectly

60 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Quite enjoyable until....

I really enjoyed listening to this book until the end when the reader kept mispronouncing Aboriginal words. It’s wonderful to have the First Nations of the Adelaide Plains acknowledged but it really ruins the intention when the names of those people are mispronounced (Kaurna may start with a K but it’s pronounced as a G). A little extra care should have been taken by the producers of this audiobook when faced with words they obviously had never heard before, especially when the book deals so closely with words and their meanings. Otherwise this is a thoughtfully written book, well researched and insightful. I highly recommend it.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An Engrossing Story, A Thinkpiece on Words

If you just get this for the story, it is of a woman neither shy nor brave, whose love of language and words signpost her life. She is a comfortable and keen observer and a reluctant protagonist. It is also a story of language, of words and their power, where the epilogue and author's notes play as vital a role as any plot point. I feel that echoes of this moving, intelligent, thoughtful book will reverberate in my head and heart for the rest of my life.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

detailed, thought provoking and entertaining

loved the characters, narrative and historical accuracy. narrator was great to listen to and read with care. highly recommend!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

I loved every second of this wonderful story. Full of heart and the narration is perfect. This has become a new favourite for me

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Chapters out of order?

Chapters played out of order for me, one chapter went for over two hours which was the end of the book. A chunk of the middle of the story was skipped. I was very confused; once the middle of the story started to play, it began to make sense, but because of this technical error I didn't get as emotionally involved as I may have and therefore overall enjoyment was impacted. Not sure if others had the same issue

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gentle sweet sad special

I loved this book. Williams dealt with the difficulties of single parenthood, gender roles, inequality , change and war without too much opinion, letting the reader feel through it.

A smashing read and so well voice acted; Imogen Sage is very talented.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • ARC
  • 09-05-2021

Audiobook chapters in wrong order!

Very good read and performance, but 3/4 down the way, Audiobook chapters in wrong order, spoiling the end...

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Througherly enjoyed.

I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did. Througherly enjoyed it, narrated well and had me wanting to know more.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved listening to this book

Loved the story woven around historical events. Finally, a narrator whose voice ages with the characters. I really enjoyed this book.

8 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rev. Kate
  • Rev. Kate
  • 19-04-2021

Brilliant and Breathtaking

An exceptional read. And a delicately and intricately woven story.

This book is a first class meander through a powerful time in modern human history.

Poignant and captivating, touching and painful, this is a journey that will leave you quiet, thoughtful and soulful.

Achingly beautiful. And a truly brilliant and breathtaking work.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.