If Miley Cyrus has taught us anything, it’s that we can dance our way into the Oxford Dictionary if we try hard enough. This week, the wordsmiths at Britain’s Oxford Dictionaries inducted the verb “to twerk” into their collection:
There are many theories about the origin of this word…we think the most likely theory is that it is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to ‘work it.’
I know. I’m just as disappointed as you are. But with our teenagers running around out there, inventing new slang terms like it’s their job, we’re going to have to get used to trends finding their way into our dictionaries. In fact, here are a few more words that made the cut this summer:
Selfie (n.): a picture taken of a person by that person
Our generation has duckfaced their way into the dictionary with this term. (In other news, duckface has not yet had the honor of joining its twerk and selfie brethren in the big book of words.) Selfies skyrocketed to fame with the introduction of photo-sharing apps like Instagram and social networking sites that encourage shameless self-promotion.
Digital Detox (n.): the process of “unplugging” for a certain period of time to lessen one’s dependency on technology
When you swear off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for a week, you’re actually engaging in a form of digital detox. I didn’t actually think there was a word for this phenomenon, and I actually kind of like it, so there will be no complaints from me here.
Food Baby (n.): the appearance of being pregnant after consuming too much food
Juno: I’m pregnant.
Leah: What? Honest to blog?
Juno: Yeah. Yeah, it’s Bleekers.
Leah: It’s probably just a food baby.
This scene from the movie Juno (2007) was my first exposure to “food baby” and it feels like I have been using it ever since. Confusing food babies with real babies is a very legitimate problem, so I won’t be offended if you ask me if I have a food baby on the way. However, if you are a child and you announce that I must have 5 babies in my stomach, that is a different story.
Phablet (n.): a device that is larger than a phone, but smaller than a tablet
Here is another word I had no idea even existed until today. Does that make me old? Probably. Phablet is a handy term used to describe the new line of “in-between” devices like iPad Minis that don’t exactly fit either the phone or tablet category. They’re kind of like technology Ligers: they’re a little bit of both, but they’re so distinct, they still get their own category. Ligers and Phablets are equally as dangerous, just in different ways (one will consume you, the other will eventually consume your soul).
Frenemy (n.): an enemy disguised as a friend; someone who practices aspects of friendship but can also function as an enemy in other environments
I imagine a frenemy as that pretty girl in high school who you were kind of friends with but who also managed to steal every club position or cute boy you wanted to have. They can either be the people you want to hate but can’t because they’re just too nice, or they can be the backstabber that pretends to be your friend so they can betray you when the time is right. Keep your friends close, you enemies closer, and your frenemies so close that you confuse the two.
Live-Blog (v.): to update or write commentary about an event as it takes place
Often used by journalists during live political events or TV enthusiasts who want to document every funny quip at the Oscars, live-blogging (or sometimes, live-tweeting) describes the process of discussing an event as it’s happening. In all seriousness, this is actually a good way to connect to your audience and others who have the same interests. If you’ve never followed the Twitter TV hashtags during your favorite show, I suggest you try it. Watching other people freak out about so-and-sos betrayal or a particular plot twist makes you feel a little less alone in the world and reminds you that you’re not the only one freaking out over the cruelty of television scriptwriters.
Derp (n.): used as a substitute for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action; (v.) to partake in foolish/unsignificant actions
We can all thank South Park for this one, as the show was the first to introduce “derp” as a “simple, undefined reply when an ignorant comment or action is made.” This word has latched onto popular memes and has found its way into online reddit boards. It can also be used as a verb, as in “I was just derping around when the Trix rabbit showed up and tried to take my yogurt.”
I have my opinions about some of these words, but what do you think? Are all of these terms appropriate additions? Did the Oxford Dictionary workers miss any words that you’d like to see in the dictionary?
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