Tag Archives: Oxford English Dictionary

And the International Oxford Dictionaries Word of 2013 Is……..

Selfie!  Here’s the news flash from the website Mashable:

“Oxford Dictionaries announced “Selfie” as the international Word of the Year 2013, noting its frequency in the English language has increased by 17,000% since last year.

“According to Oxford Dictionaries, the word “selfie” first appeared in 2002, when it was used in an Australian online forum. It was popularized by social media during the years (it was used as a hashtag on Flickr in 2004), but it became widely adopted around 2012, when it started commonly being used in mainstream media.”

So get out your smartphone, make those duck lips, take your picture and upload it to your favorite social media sites.

(What is wrong with me? Why am I promoting this?)

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

Are You Ready for These New Words?

Cover of "The Oxford English Dictionary (...

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Every quarter, the Oxford English Dictionary comes out with a supplement containing words it deems worthy of inclusion, words it expects to stick around. The most recent additions include TWERK (verb), a dance motion made popular by hip hop dancers but now, apparently, more mainstream and reported to have been around for close to 20 years; SELFIE, a photographic self-portrait, often pouting, you post to digital media; DIGITAL DETOX, taking time away from social media (it can be done); and BITCOIN, the electronic currency not associated with any nation.

Now you know. I wonder what the next three months will bring.

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language

The OED

Cover of "The Oxford English Dictionary (...

Cover via Amazon

If you’re not familiar with those initials, they stand for the Oxford English Dictionary, undoubtedly the most revered dictionary in the English-speaking world.  Not your typical dictionary, it gives not only etymology and spelling but examples of word usage from the first example to more recent ones, including dates of those instances. Researchers began working on it in 1857.

Today on “All Things Considered,” the about-to-retire Chief Editor of the OED, John Simpson, was interviewed. He has been delving into words at the OED for 37 years now and thought it was time to spend his time in areas less apt to change than is language.  In the interview, he was asked if the next revision of the OED would include words that first appeared not on paper but in cyberspace, and the answer was a definitive yes.

In case you think the OED would be a nifty dictionary for your bookshelf, it currently runs to

Cover of "The Professor and the Madman: A...

Cover via Amazon

20 volumes.  Years ago I joined the Book of the Month Club because as a bonus for signing up I could get the OED in two volumes, with four pages of the larger edition on each page. The slipcase contains a drawer with a necessary magnifying glass included.  You can get the OED online, but it is quite pricey.

A wonderful book about the OED and one of its most diligent and fruitful researchers is The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester.  Here is a brief Amazon synopsis:

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary — and literary history. The compilation of the OED began in 1857; it was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Tell me that doesn’t grab you!  The Professor and the Madman is a compelling book I recommend without reservation.

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April 27, 2013 · 12:55 AM