how “tiktokeur” or “ecofeminism” entered the dictionary

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The new edition of Petit Robert. THE ROBERT

Le Petit Robert de la langue française 2025, Le Robert, 2,880 p., €69.90 or €74.90 with its digital version (in bookstores on May 16).

The great rivals of the dictionary are back in bookstores. May 16 for the 2025 edition of Petit Robert, with new words like “ecofeminism”, “espuma”, “neuroatypical”, “tchip” or “tiktokeur”. The 22nd for that of Petit Larousse. There is no coincidence in this coincidence, it is increasingly in July and August that sales are concentrated, for the start of the school year. A major meeting which dictates its tempo to the complex development of the volumes in the two houses, subsidiaries of the main French publishing groups, Editis and Hachette. For everyone, the same objective: to save what can be saved in a market in sharp decline.

With the rise of the Internet and online dictionaries, often free, sales of paper dictionaries have collapsed. From 1.6 million in 2004, the number of copies sold fell to 526,000 in 2023, according to the GfK institute, a division by three in twenty years. It continues to decline by around 7% per year. Apart from Scrabble fans, translators and proofreaders, who still turns these kinds of pages?

At Editis’ Paris headquarters, Charles Bimbenet keeps smiling. “For us, the dictionary is not dead at all! », assures the general director of Robert to “World of Books”. In his hands lies the key to his optimism: the new edition of the illustrated Robert Junior (1,568 pages, 21.95 euros with access to his online dictionary, in bookstores on May 16). As much as dictionaries for adults suffer, those intended for students resist. “The Robert junior, which targets 7-11 year olds, constitutes the equivalent of a very successful novelrejoices Charles Bimbenet. We sell hundreds of thousands of them per year and, here, there is no competition with digital. In class, in CM1, you don’t go looking for definitions on the Internet. Furthermore, in school curricula, vocabulary becomes a central skill. »

“Valentine” replaced “Julie”

Behind the communication orchestrated around the new words of Petit Robert or Petit Larousse, the real battle is therefore being fought around dictionaries designed for young people. This is the reason why Le Robert junior benefited this year from an overhaul the likes of which it had not seen for ten years. In the examples given for each entry, the first names have been updated. “Valentine” replaced “Julie”. New words have appeared, such as the “blob”, this unicellular organism now studied in class. New names, too, like those of Gabriel Attal or director Justine Triet. And more than one illustration in two has been changed. In the article “tamer”, the photo has given way to an old engraving, “because circus tamers will soon be history”we explain to Robert.

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