article
What’s in a word?

What’s in a word?

By Dear Molly

If you’ve ever watched the film The Professor and The Madman, (and we strongly suggest you do) you would be well aware compiling the Oxford English Dictionary was no mean feat.

The principal dictionary of the English language took no fewer than 84 years to go from concept to complete first edition, and each year thousands of words are added, along with revisions to existing entries.

What gets added?

In most years new word additions will range from references to pop culture to new expressions, adjectives and more.

For example, in 2019, chillax, Jedi, cryptocurrency, and whatevs graced the Oxford English Dictionary for the first time.

Now, the dictionary’s revision editors have released their latest list of new additions as of March 2021, and it makes for some interesting reading.

So, what made the most recent grade according to the definitive record of the English language? Drum roll please….

Words that reflect a changing culture

Among the new words to be re-defined or added to the Oxford English Dictionary this quarter are many that reflect our modern culture.

In fact, over 750 words and terms were revisited, while 700 new words, senses, phrases, and compounds were added.

Pay gap made the list of terms added, while keyboard warrior, fat-shaming and gig economy also received some fresh attention.

Anti-black was a new entry, along with allyship, astraphobia (the fear of thunderstorms or lightning), lip balm, overshare, queerbaiting, and zip-tie.

An unprecedented year of words in 2020

The Oxford English Dictionary also recently took a good hard look at the big words of 2020, noting for the first time, they would not name a word of the year because it was 2020 was “a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word”.

Instead, they opted to release “Words of an unprecedented year”, which naturally included Coronavirus, and Covid-19.

Accompanying those were, “circuit breaker”, “lockdown”, “shelter-in-place”, “bubbles”, “face masks” and “key workers”, along with “black lives matter”, “BLM”, “QAnon” and “conspiracy theory”.

It was a year which clearly reflected a world transfixed by news, a new normal and rapidly changing events.

“What words best describe 2020? A strange year? A crazy year? A lost year?” The Oxford English Dictionary asked in its report on 2020.

“Oxford Languages’ monitor corpus of English shows a huge upsurge in usage of each of those phrases compared to 2019.

“Though what was genuinely unprecedented this year was the hyper-speed at which the English-speaking world amassed a new collective vocabulary relating to the coronavirus, and how quickly it became, in many instances, a core part of the language.”

Related Articles

How did the 1982’ Commonwealth Games inspire you?

How did the 1982’ Commonwealth Games inspire you?

Remember that wink? You know, from 1982…When Matilda the boxing kangaroo came around the track at the Opening Ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane and gave the crowd including the Queen her famous wink.  When Rolf Harris (if only we knew) sang ‘Tie me Kangaroo down sport’ as the youngsters dressed as kangaroos jumped on trampolines. It was the early 80’s in Brisbane and as a 5 year old, I sat high in the stadium seats watching on with my parents. I guess what we now call the ‘nose bleed’ section is where we were.

Read more

A comeback for the ages

A comeback for the ages

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Read more

Jacinda Ardern take a bow

Jacinda Ardern take a bow

In a time when we are all seeking leadership, look no further than Jacinda Ardern, whose actions over the past few days have caused us all to sit up and take note.

Read more

COMMENTS

Please login or sign-up to add your comment.


Comments (0):

There are no comments yet.