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Blog - Dictionaries redefine bullying victims after campaign

Major dictionaries are to stop defining bullies as strong and their targets as weak after a campaign.

Anti-bullying activists persuaded the Oxford, Cambridge and Collins Dictionaries, and online dictionaries, to change their definitions

Previously, a bully was defined as a person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate weaker people.

Now the victim of bullying is described as someone who “they perceive as vulnerable”.

The campaign was led by anti-bullying charity Diana Award and received support from young people.

They lobbied dictionary firms to remove the word weak from their definitions.


Alex Holmes, the charity’s deputy chief executive, said: “A core part of our work is to educate young people that a bully is not inherently strong and being a victim does not mean you are weak.

“By removing weak from the definition we can instil confidence in those who have or are still experiencing bullying and help future generations better understand bullying behaviour.”

The campaign won support from numerous celebrities including Vamps guitarist James McVey, who is an ambassador for the charity.

He told 5 live’s Afternoon Edition little changes like this could contribute to altering a general stereotype.

“The word we all have a problem with is ‘weaker’ because we’re insinuating that everyone that is bullied is a weak person.

“It’s so far from the truth, the majority of people I’ve worked with through the Diana Award are some of the strongest and bravest I’ve met.”

The Diana Award was set up in memory of the late Princess Diana who spoke of the ability of young people to change their world.