The media’s in a tizzy today over new words the Oxford Dictionaries just added to its online edition. Some people are calling it the end of the English language as we know it. But we’re happy. Here’s why:
- To quote the announcement: “Publishing online allows us to make the results of our research available more quickly than ever before.” In other words, the digital dictionary is faster to respond to changes in language. “On average, we add approximately 1,000 new entries to Oxford Dictionaries Online every year, and this quarter’s update highlights some fascinating developments in the English language.” We agree.
- Language changes, and as it changes it grows to reflect our culture. This quarter’s updates include many words that were coined in the context of digital life. Ignore them, and you’ll be missing out on conversations both on- and offline. Besides, some of them are intriguing and fun to use.
So, in the interests of inclusion, here are the 16 most important new words for us all to learn. Enjoy them and use them!
- Phablet A smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer.
- Selfie A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. The word entered the mainstream last year when Hillary Clinton used it in a text message.
- Srsly Short for “seriously.” (Seriously!) This is a syllabification used in texting – but according to the OED, it goes back to the late 18th century, when it was first recorded in a manual on shorthand.
- Bitcoin A digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank. It comes from “bit” – a binary unit of information – and “coin.”
- FOMO Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website. Like LOL, it’s an abbreviation: Fear of Missing Out. Ouch.
- Emoji A small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication. ie: a smiley face, frowny face or other readymade emoticon. Click here to see Senior Planet’s article on Art History emojis!
- FIL A person’s father-in-law. Are you a FIL?
- Supercut A compilation of a large number of short video clips, typically showing examples of a repeated or clichéd action or phrase in films or broadcasts. Click here to watch Star Wars, Rocky and other supercuts.
- Unlike Withdraw one’s liking or approval of a web page or posting on a social media website that one has previously liked.
- Click and collect A shopping facility whereby a customer can buy or order goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch. Even though plenty of US retailers offer this service, we’re sad to say that word isn’t in current American English usage; linguistically, it’s a Brit phenomenon.
- MOOC A course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people. Get used to this one: You’re likely to see it used on this website. It’s an initialization of “massive open online course.”
- Internet of things A proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. Think Google Glass.
- BYOD The practice of allowing the employees of an organization to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes. Now you can BYOB and BYOD.
- Hackerspace A place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. (Although there’s a lot of talk of people trying to hack into computers to steal data, “to hack” simply means to play around with computer code.)
- Geek chic The dress, appearance, and culture associated with computing and technology enthusiasts, regarded as stylish or fashionable. Wondering what that actually looks like? Let me Google that for you.
- Digital detox 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. Time to unplug!
See all the new words in the Oxford Dictionaries Online, along with some commentary, by clicking here.
Tell us your favorite new word – or tell us why they shouldn’t have been included in the dictionary.