In an attempt to reflect evolving cultural, political and social norms Oxford Dictionaries, a branch of the Oxford family that studies the contemporary use of language, announced on Wednesday (August 26) 1,000 new additions to its pages, including the words abso-bloody-lutely, bants and manspreading.
Many of the new words were previously considered to be slang, but now have clear definitions. Beer o’clock, with its sophisticated counterpart, wine o’clock have both made it onto the list as a means of (humorously) defining the time of day at which it is appropriate to have your first glass of either alcohol.
Oxford Dictionaries has described the addition of multiple slang words as showing ‘creative’ use of language. The publishers have also taken into consideration the many different variations of English that are spoken across the globe.
Editor Katherine Connor Martin said: “New slang and informal words catch on much more quickly in a particular variety of English—for instance, in our monitoring sample, side boob is more than 10 times more common in the UK than in the US (although this is due in part to its frequent use in the British media), whereas adorbs is used about 4 times more often in the US as in the UK.”
Not all the words that made the cut have a comic undertone. Mx has been added as an alternative to ‘Mr, Mrs, Ms etc’ for ‘those who wish to avoid specifying their gender or those who prefer not to identify as male or female’.
This, arguably historic, change comes in line with the growing social awareness surrounding gender identity. The last time the list of titles featured in a new dictionary was in the 1950s when ‘Ms’ was included, eliminating the need for women to disclose their marital status and providing a female equivalent for the neutral, male ‘Mr’.
The influence of current affairs on the new additions is evident. The word Grexit (Greece + Exit), a blend of words coined to describe Greece’s possible exit from the Eurozone, has been included alongside Brexit, a term for Britain’s potential departure from the EU that has been popular in the media since 2012.
Social media has clearly played a big part in conceiving new terms. Redditors and YouTubers, terms used to describe users of platforms Reddit and YouTube, have now been given the Oxford Dictionaries’ seal of approval.
Some more quirky vocabulary falling into the ‘gamer’ category is ownage and pwnage. Ownage is used by video game fans to describe ‘the action or fact of utterly defeating an opponent or rival’, but as the typo pwage is just as common due to the proximity of ‘o’ and ‘p’ on a keyboard, this also has a mention.
David Astle, author of Riddledom, has doubts about the longevity of the new additions. He explains: “Even though it seems that they (the words) have been awarded the mantle of publication, I still think there’s a kind of proving ground that will apply to so many of these new arrivals and that’ll occur in the next decade.” (ABC News)
It remains to be seen if awesomesauce (extremely good; excellent) and hangry (bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger) will still be a part of our lexicon 10 years from now.
A list of all the new updates can be found at http://www.oxforddictionaries.com