Countdown star Susie Dent’s ‘delight’ at honour for sharing her joy of language

Countdown star Susie Dent is “delighted” that she is being honoured for sharing her joy of language.

The lexicographer, etymologist and author, 59, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to literature and to language as part of the King’s Birthday Honours list.

For more than 30 years, Oxford-based Dent has appeared as the resident expert in Dictionary Corner on the Channel 4 show, where she regularly checks unusual words and explains to contestants which answers would have improved their score.

The Queen meeting Susie Dent at The Queen’s Reading Room charity reception
The Queen meets etymologist and author Susie Dent (Yui Mok/PA)

In a statement to the PA news agency, Dent said: “I’m thrilled by this unexpected recognition, and will celebrate it on behalf of word lovers everywhere.

“Throughout my career I’ve tried to share the joy of language and of books (above all, the dictionary!) and so I’m especially delighted to be honoured for my contribution to language and literature.

“They are the mainstays of my life, and I’ll do my very best to continue spreading the word, quite literally.”

Dent has also embraced a more comedic side as along with the spin-off show 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, which comedian Jimmy Carr presents, she has appeared on BBC comedy series Not Going Out and ITV entertainment show Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

She has also contributed articles to Radio Times, The Week Junior magazine and the i newspaper, and is the author of books including 2003’s The Language Report: The Ultimate Record Of What We’re Saying And How We’re Saying It, which traced the evolution of language and explained the origins of phrases such as “speed dating”.

In 2023, she wrote Roots Of Happiness: 100 Words For Joy And Hope From Britain’s Most-Loved Word Expert, which tries to find some light in language, and her latest book, Words From The Heart: An Emotional Dictionary, looks at happiness.

Countdown's former host Nick Hewer with Rachel Riley and words expert Susie Dent
Former Countdown presenter Nick Hewer with numbers whizz Rachel Riley (right) and words expert Susie Dent (left) (Mark Johnston/Channel 4/PA)

Dent has also published a series of annual language reports for the Oxford University Press, and is a spokeswoman for the publisher.

She has judged the Costa Book Awards, before they were scrapped in 2022, and the Academy Excellence Awards.

In 2020, Dent was enlisted by Amazon to help its virtual assistant Alexa understand UK regional dialects by training it on hundreds of local words.

She has supported the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association by signing up for its My Sighted Guide volunteering service, and qualifying with the charity to help people who are blind by aiding them getting around. The words expert also became a patron of the dog breed charity the Pointer Rescue Service in 2023.

Dent has also toured theatres in the UK as part of her show Susie Dent: The Secret Lives Of Words.