Last Updated on October 23, 2023
If you take a photo of yourself to post on social media, you probably are familiar with the term ‘selfie.’ It’s one of the brand new words just added to the Oxford Dictionary Online. But we have several new words to discuss as of the end of last month. How many of these have you used?
The other day I read this great statement that’s generally true about any dictionary you’ll ever read: A dictionary is descriptive, not prescriptive.
In case you haven’t had your morning coffee, yet, it means that a dictionary’s primary purpose is in describing words being used and their meanings, rather than instructing how words should be used. I’ve pointed out before that you’ll find so-called “nonstandard” words like irregardless in the dictionary. That’s not an excuse to use irregardless in a sentence; but the word appears so that people can understand that someone who does use it either means regardless or irrespective.
The Oxford University Press updates its Oxford Dictionary Online listings every year, adding brand new words that come into use so that people can figure out the meanings of new linguistic gems being tossed about. At the end of August, OED added 65 new words. Many of them, like guac, are merely abbreviations of perfectly good words like guacamole. Others, like selfie, refer to relatively new customs that technology brings us, such as the ability (and popularity) of posting self-portraits.
Here are 20 of the newest words you can now say — for better or worse — are actually in the dictionary:
This is one of the most ridiculous “words” I’ve ever seen. One who hands out “apols” is offering an apology. Although I would suggest that if someone can’t even spell out a simple word like apology, he might be a bit too “laz” and certainly not as “sor” as he should be.
A vacation, based on the word honeymoon, taken by a couple just prior to the birth of their baby. I am just old-fashioned enough that I originally had added the word married into that definition. I suppose that in this day and age, it’d be silly to make such an assumption. Silly me.
3. cake pop
I’ve never had a cake pop, but I definitely like the concept: it’s a small, round piece of cake coated with icing or chocolate and affixed to the end of a stick, similar to a lollipop. A lollipop made of cake instead of candy? Sign me up for that!
This one can go two ways. As an explanation, it’s similar to Duh!. As a noun, it’s foolishness: one might say that there’s a lot of derp among these new “words.”
Remember when emoticons were all the rage? Those little smiley faces or frown faces, or any other kind you can imagine now have a new descriptor. Emoji seems to be the plural version of emoticon, although I suppose one could add “an emoji” to a text or email. The origin of the word, interestingly enough, comes from the “e” often added to indicate something’s electronic origin and the Japanese word moji, which means a letter or character.
Here’s one you can blame on social media. Seeing posts mentioning some event about which there’s not enough specific information, particularly a location, can lead to someone experiencing the anxiety that they’re not taking part in something they should be. FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.”
7. food baby
This one, by far, is my favorite one on the list. A “food baby” is the protruding stomach of someone who eats too much and, as a result, has amassed too much belly fat and resembles a pregnant woman. Just don’t ask a guy with a food baby when he’s due unless you’re sure you can outrun him.
8. geek chic
The form of dress normally embraced by tech enthusiasts, which is probably a nice way of saying, “nerds,” though nothing overly-nerdy. Think of Big Bang Theory and focus more on Leonard and Sheldon Howard and Rajesh.
The only benefit of this abbreviation for congratulations is that it may finally help educate people that it isn’t spelled “congradulations.”
Don’t let the hacker part fool you: there’s nothing of criminal or evil intent that should be assumed in this space, in which a group of computer enthusiasts gather to work together and share ideas on various projects.
11. Internet of things
This is an odd one to me: it’s the proposed collection of everyday devices that are connected to the internet.
Jean shorts. I’m not sure why we need such a word; has their status of being “in” or “out” of fashion changed recently? It seems that these have been around so long that you’d think if a name for them were necessary, we’d have already had it.
You’d think that the abbreviation for “long distance relationships” would have long ago made its way to a dictionary. They even predate the internet!
Because I’m not much of a drinker, I’d have never guessed the meaning of this one: a drink made with beer, lime juice, piquant seasonings, and sometimes tomato juice. I think I’ll stick to my rum and Coke or maybe a nice Merlot.
I think we’ve all felt like we’ve been in the middle of one of these: a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations. The key, I think, is that we’re never the cause of one.
You know those giant cell phones that look more like mini iPads than phones? Then you know what a phablet is. The word is based on the combination of the words phone and tablet. I just wonder how someone comfortably holds that giant thing up to their face to talk on the phone.
17. street food
With the growing fascination of food trucks, maybe we felt a greater need to describe food sold on the street or outdoor locations and prepared for immediate consumption rather than a more formal, sit-down meal.
As an exclamation, it’s similar to “Yay!” As a noun, it’s an expression of excitement. As a verb, it means to express excitement. It sounds more like one is so excited they might have had a little accident, but that seems not to be part of the “official” meaning.
A blatant expression of self-centered laziness, this expression is meant to be dismissive and used by someone who thinks far too much of their time. It means, “too long; didn’t read” and refers to text that they feel isn’t worth the time it would take to read it. People who use the expression often probably aren’t loyal readers of this blog, but that’s just a guess.
Thanks to certain childish, desperate attempts at attention, many have already heard of “twerking.” For those of you who haven’t, it refers to a style of overly-provocative dancing usually done in a squatting stance with a sexually-inspired upward thrusting of hips.
Which of these brand new words would you most like to phase completely out of existence? Is it just me, or do you worry about the future of mankind when we feel the need to add a few of these to our language?