Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25, 2015--Word of the Year

Each year the Oxford English Dictionary--the ultimate repository and conservator of all the words in the English language--adds hundreds of new words to its existing list of 1,025,109 words.

All languages evolve. In the case of English rapidly.

This has been going on for a very long time and new words come from many sources. From Shakespeare, for example, who alone contributed at least 1,700 words to our vocabulary--now everyday words such as baseless, castigate, summit, and grovel--to prison slang, some of which over time meets the OED criteria as "acceptable" English. Slang words such as slammer (prison), screw (prison guard), and bats (cigarettes).

Each year the OED adds upwards of 1,000 words. This past year about 800 were added including--

Hangry--a blend of hungry and angry

Melty--partially melted

Butt dial--to accidentally dial a cell phone as by sitting on it

Ginormous--huge or very big

To amazon--the verb to shop or browse on

Manspreading--someone sitting with his legs wide apart, like the man I sat next to yesterday on the subway

Foodfie--a selfie of someone with food

Selfiecide--death of a person while taking a selfie

Then the OED has its Word of the Year, which by the rules doesn't have to be a word that was invented during the year but can reflect major events of the day. For example, last year refugee was shortlisted.

Two years ago selfie itself won. Last year is was vape. At a time when electronic cigarettes were all the rage, it meant the vapor emitted when smoked.

Runners up this year were on fleek, meaning extremely good or stylish and lumbersexual for a young urban man who dresses as if he has a rugged lifestyle.

The winner for 2015 wasn't even a word. The rules also allow that and so for the first time an emoji won. Not the word emoji, which was added in 1997 from the Japanese character for picture, but the emoji itself for tears of joy.


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