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Word Nerd

August 22, 2010

The Oxford English Dictionary has recently added over 2,000 new words and phrases to its pages. They include culturally relevant words that were everywhere this year like “social media,” “netbook,” “vuvuzela,” and “staycation.” But, my favorites? “Turducken,” and even more so: “bromance.” Yes, folks, bromance is now officially a word.

Other notables include:

  • Frenemy
  • Defriend
  • LBD
  • Cheeseball
  • Chillax
  • Steampunk
  • Hater
  • Interweb (Oh no! Now people can’t use this ironically!)

“Frenemy,” “LBD” and “cheeseball” seem dated at this point, so it’s odd to see them being made a big deal of. But, are you kidding me with the inclusion of “chillax”? That is just silly.

What is really odd are the words that were submitted to the dictionary and were rejected because too few people use them. These include “freegan” and “locavore.” I hear those words all the time, but maybe that’s just because I know a lot of hippies.  They’re a lot more relevant than “chillax,” that’s for damn sure. What I absolutely love is that there is a vault somewhere in England with cabinets full of index cards with the definitions of rejected words dating back to before 1918 when J.R.R Tolkien was a sub-editor. Some guy wanted to have a poke around but was denied access. After scouring the web for people who wrote about their words being denied, he managed to collect 150 of them and made a dictionary of non-words on an old-fashioned letterpress.  I would LOVE to own one of these.

There are some really great ones that he managed to dig up like “polkadodge,” which is the dance people do when they’re trying to avoid running into each other but both end up choosing the same direction, and “furgle,” which means when you’re fumbling in your pocket or bag for something and you can’t find it. These happen to me all the time and the words perfectly capture the act. Another great one is a “nonversation” where a conversation doesn’t lead to anything of any importance or new information. I would also love to be able to play “smushables” in game of Scrabble, which are the groceries you need to pack at the top of the bag in order to avoid them getting squashed.

Also, did you know that the OED was only first published in 1998 and this is just its third edition? Crazy town.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go beg for a copy of the Non-Word Dictionary.

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