is an English lexicographer, well known as the resident dictionary expert and adjudicator on Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...
’s long-running game show Countdown
Countdown is a British game show involving word and number puzzles. It is produced by ITV Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It is presented by Jeff Stelling, assisted by Rachel Riley, with regular lexicographer Susie Dent. It was the first programme to be aired on Channel 4, and over sixty-five...
. As of January 2009, she is the longest-serving member of the current on-screen team, having first appeared on the show in 1992.
Dent was educated at the Marist Convent in Ascot
Ascot is a village within the civil parish of Sunninghill and Ascot, in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Berkshire, England. It is most notable as the location of Ascot Racecourse, home of the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting...
. She went on to study Modern Languages at Somerville College, Oxford
Somerville College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, and was one of the first women's colleges to be founded there...
and German at Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....
, New Jersey, after which she worked as a language teacher in the United States and for a German publisher before going to work for the Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...
(OUP). She now works as a writer and contributor to discussions of language issues and words in the news: the Language Corner
column in the UK MSN Encarta
online encyclopedia site is one of these.
From 2003 to 2007 she was the author of a series of annual Language Report
The Language Report was an account of the state and use of the English language published by the Oxford University Press in 2003...
for the OUP. The first was entitled simply The Language Report
; it was followed by Larpers and Shroomers
(2004), Fanboys and Overdogs
(2005), The Like, Language Report for Real
(2006) and The Language Report: English on the Move 2000 - 2007
(2007). The format of this publication was revised for 2008 as an A-Z collection of new and newly resurrected words. It was published in October 2008 as Words of the Year
. In 2005 the same publisher issued Winning Ways
(ISBN 0199198748). 2009 OUP published her latest work: What Made the Crocodile Cry? 101 questions about the English language
(ISBN 0199574154). Dent's book about dialects, How to Talk Like a Local
(ISBN 1905211791), was published in March 2010.
Countdown on Channel 4
Dent has appeared on Countdown
since 1992, having made over 2,000 appearances; however, it was only in 2003 (series 49) that she took on her role full-time.
As well as her native English, she is fluent in French and German. She lives in Oxford with her husband, Paul, and two daughters.