Sunday, August 22, 2010

The ODE Adds

AOL News LONDON (Aug. 20)

Theunis Bates

-- Ever defriended a hater or chillaxed with a vuvuzela? No? Well, apparently a lot of other people have, because along with 2,000 other terms, those ungainly words have just been granted a place in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English.

Unlike the more prestigious multivolume Oxford English Dictionary -- which, as AOL News reported last month, is exceptionally picky about the words it lets in -- the single-book Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) is based on how the English language is used in everyday life. Logophiles at the Oxford University Press decide on the new entries for the ODE by perusing an online database of over 2 billion words, harvested from magazines, novels, Internet chat rooms and a stack of other sources.

One of the biggest feeders of our ever-hungry language has been the economic crisis. Words once only used by pinstriped Wall Street types like "deleveraging" (the process or practice of reducing the level of one's debt by rapidly selling one's assets) and "quantitative easing" (the introduction of new money into the money supply by the central bank) are now common parlance. Others -- like "staycation" (a holiday spent in one's home country) -- sum up the sacrifices ordinary folk have to make in these cash-short times.

The ongoing ascent of social media, itself a new term, has also churned up some curious turns of phrase. You can now legitimately drop "defriend" (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social-networking site) into a conversation, or arrange a "tweetup" (a meeting organized by means of posts on Twitter). But just because they're in the dictionary, don't expect anyone over 30 to know what you're yakking about.

Some new terms, though, seem destined to fade away just as quickly as they appeared. Has the word "bromance" (a close but nonsexual relationship between two men) ever been used outside of a Paul Rudd movie review? And as for "wardrobe malfunction" (an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of his or her body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position), surely that died along with Janet Jackson's career at the 2004 Super Bowl?

Here's a selection of new entries, several of which demonstrate how long it has taken for some well-established Americanisms to take root -- however tenuously -- across the Atlantic:

automagically -- automatically and in a way that seems ingenious, inexplicable or magical

bargainous -- costing less than is usual or than might be expected; cheap or relatively cheap

bromance -- a close but nonsexual relationship between two men

buzzkill -- a person or thing that has a depressing or dispiriting effect

carbon capture and storage -- the process of trapping and storing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels

catastrophizing -- view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is

cheeseball -- lacking taste, style or originality

chillax -- calm down and relax

chill pill -- a notional pill taken to make someone calm down

cool hunter -- a person whose job it is to make observations or predictions about new styles and trends

defriend -- another term for "unfriend" (remove someone from a list of friends or contacts on a social-networking site)

deleveraging -- the process or practice of reducing the level of one's debt by rapidly selling one's assets

dictionary attack -- an attempt to gain illicit access to a computer system by using a very large set of words to generate potential passwords

exit strategy -- a preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation

freemium -- a business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free while more advanced features must be paid for

frenemy -- a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry

fussbudget -- a fussy person

geoengineering -- manipulation of environmental processes in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming

hater -- negative person

hikikomori -- the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males (in Japan)

Interweb -- the Internet

LBD -- little black dress

matchy-matchy -- excessively color-coordinated

microblogging -- the posting of very short entries on a blog

national treasure -- someone/thing regarded as emblematic of a nation's cultural heritage

netbook -- small light laptop

overleveraged -- having taken on too much debt

overthink -- think about (something) too much or for too long

paywall -- an arrangement whereby access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to a website

quantitative easing -- the introduction of new money into the money supply by a central bank

social media -- websites and applications used for social networking

soft skills -- personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people

staycation -- holiday spent in one's home country

steampunk -- a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology

toxic debt -- debt that has a high risk of default

turducken -- a roast dish consisting of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey

tweetup -- a meeting organized by means of posts on Twitter

vuvuzela -- long horn blown by fans at soccer matches

wardrobe malfunction -- an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of his or her body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position

3 comments:

  1. Wow. I can't believe that "fussbudget" is only just now entering the ODE - I remember that being the main term to describe Lucy Van Pelt in the Peanuts comic strip 40+ years ago - while "interweb" makes it in a few short years.

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