Dictionary Upgrades: ‘Twerk,’ ‘Derp,’ ‘Selfie,’ ‘Food baby,’ and ‘Jorts’ Added to the Dictionary


Girl with Selfie

The English language is ever-changing and the powers-that-be are taking note. Each year, new words are added to authoritative dictionaries around the world in an attempt to keep their collections as modern and comprehensive as possible.

The Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) is the newest group to include a a bundle of slang-ish words. In 2012, it was news when Merriam-Webster added words like “sexting” to their book. Both these dictionaries are categorically Descriptivist—they consider it their responsibility to observe how language is evolving and let their collections act as a reflection of the times.

With the ODO’s update, words like bitcoin, squee, derp, emoji, twerk, FOMO, guac, selfie, srsly, and vom have been officially ordained.


Check out the full list of additions along with definitions

  • apols, pl. n. (informal): apologies.
  • A/W, abbrev.: autumn/winter (denoting or relating to fashion designed for the autumn and winter seasons of a particular year). (See also S/S)
  • babymoon, n. (informal): a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born; a period of time following the birth of a baby during which the new parents can focus on establishing a bond with their child.
  • balayage, n.: a technique for highlighting hair in which the dye is painted on in such a way as to create a graduated, natural-looking effect.
  • bitcoin, n.: a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank.
  • blondie, n.: a small square of dense, pale-coloured cake, typically of a butterscotch or vanilla flavour.
  • buzzworthy, adj. (informal): likely to arouse the interest and attention of the public, either by media coverage or word of mouth.
  • BYOD, n.: abbreviation of ‘bring your own device’: the practice of allowing the employees of an organization to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes.
  • cakepop, n.: a small round piece of cake coated with icing or chocolate and fixed on the end of a stick so as to resemble a lollipop.
  • chandelier earring, n.: a long, elaborate dangling earring, typically consisting of various tiers of gemstones, crystals, beads, etc.
  • click and collect, n.: a shopping facility whereby a customer can buy or order goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch.
  • dappy, adj. (informal): silly, disorganized, or lacking concentration.
  • derp, exclam. & n. (informal): (used as a substitute for) speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action.
  • digital detox, n.: a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
  • double denim, n.: a style of dress in which a denim jacket or shirt is worn with a pair of jeans or a denim skirt, often regarded as a breach of fashion etiquette.
  • emoji, n: a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication.
  • fauxhawk, n.: a hairstyle in which a section of hair running from the front to the back of the head stands erect, intended to resemble a Mohican haircut (in which the sides of the head are shaved).
  • FIL, n.: a person’s father-in-law (see also MIL, BIL, SIL).
  • flatform, n.: a flat shoe with a high, thick sole.
  • FOMO, n.: fear of missing out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
  • food baby, n.: a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food and supposedly resembling that of a woman in the early stages of pregnancy.
  • geek chic, n.: the dress, appearance, and culture associated with computing and technology enthusiasts, regarded as stylish or fashionable.
  • girl crush, n. (informal): an intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by one woman or girl for another.
  • grats, pl. n. (informal): congratulations.
  • guac, n.: guacamole.
  • hackerspace, n.: a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.
  • Internet of things, n.: a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.
  • jorts, pl. n.: denim shorts.
  • LDR, n.: a long-distance relationship.
  • me time, n. (informal): time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy.
  • MOOC, n.: a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.
  • omnishambles, n. (informal): a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations.
  • pear cider, n.: an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears.
  • phablet, n.: a smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer.
  • pixie cut, n.: a woman’s short hairstyle in which the hair is cropped in layers, typically so as to create a slightly tousled effect.
  • selfie, n. (informal): a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
  • space tourism, n.: the practice of travelling into space for recreational purposes.
  • squee, exclam. & v. & n. (informal): (used to express) great delight or excitement.
  • srsly, adv. (informal): short for ‘seriously’.
  • street food, n.: prepared or cooked food sold by vendors in a street or other public location for immediate consumption.
  • TL;DR, abbrev.: ‘too long didn’t read’: used as a dismissive response to a lengthy online post, or to introduce a summary of a lengthy post.
  • twerk, v.: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.
  • unlike, v.: withdraw one’s liking or approval of (a web page or posting on a social media website that one has previously liked).
  • vom, v. & n. (informal): (be) sick; vomit.

Here’s a “staff memo” from the “OED Selection Committee” containing all the added words via The Atlantic

MEMO

FROM: Word Selection Committee of the Oxford English Dictionary

TO: Staff

SUBJECT: Re: today’s new words

Dear OED Staff,

I know what you’re thinking: “Grats, idiots. You’ve destroyed the English language.”

You don’t like our new batch of words. You unlike our new batch of words. You’re thinking: OED isn’t supposed to girl crush on Urban Dictionary. We’re supposed to be a gateway for the future of language, not some linguistic omnishambles for Generation Twerk. When trends like the Internet of things, MOOCs and space tourism crop up, the Oxford English Dictionary is supposed to stick with tradition, not bandy about some vapid list of last season’s most fashionable acronyms (FIL? BYOD?), like we’re some A/W catalog previewing next season’s chandelier earrings for click and collect shoppers. (Even as I’m typing that sentence, I barely know what it means!) And lord, you’re thinking, if some Jersey Shore girl in a pixie cut and double-denim jorts and flatforms taking a selfie on her phablet is this generation’s William Shakespeare, you’re gonna straight up vom your street food.

I’ll admit, guac is a “new” word like bitcoin is a “real” currency.

But let me respond first by saying: Apols. Lately, OED’s been feeling a bit of FOMO about all the buzzworthy verbiage orbiting outside our hallowed pages. While initially it seemed a bit dappy to add nonsense like LDR and other ghastly abbrevs just because teens don’t have time to spell things out on Facebook Chat, the thing is, we can’t have our blondie cake pop and eat it, too.

It’s not OED’s job to request a digital detox just because Web diction has shaved a fauxhawk into the English language. Rather, it’s our job to highlight the words that blend into the way we actually talk today. It’s kinda like linguistic balayage, if I truly understood what the heck balayage actually was.

So yes, our language is suffering from a food baby of derp these days. But it’s OED’s job to adapt to the geek chic hackerspace – even if babymoons strike you as a dumb excuse for me time; even if pear cider remains an unacceptable alternative to beer; and even if if emoji represents everything a good dictionary should be against.

TL;DR: Srsly, this is the future of language. Squee.

 


Attribution

Buzzworthy words added to Oxford Dictionaries Online
How to Fit Every New Word in the Oxford English Dictionary Into 1 Article, Derek Thompson, The Atlantic


  • Sara Burnside

    Ridiculous. (More than?) half of these seriously don’t need definitions (“chandelier earrings”? Really? How dumb do the MW editors think the public is?) and a significant percentage of these I have NEVER heard anyone use (e.g. “vom” — would anyone other than perhaps a prepubescent white kid desperate for “cool” use that?). I’m not a die-hard prescriptivist, but seriously. The logic evades me.

    • http://theairspace.net/ Blake J. Graham

      It’s not a huge comfort, but it’s worth noting that the ODO and OED are separate. So while the ODO might be turning into urban dictionary, the OED is maintaining a more deliberate and precise process for adding words.

    • Mary Ullman

      My sister and I have been saying “vom” for years and are definitely not prepubescent boys. Apparently we thirty something white suburban moms are the trendsetters.

  • anardev

    OED/Urban Dictionary OTP!

  • Mary Ullman

    How did “adorbs” not make it but “apols” did?? Appalls.

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