Mark their words: Oxford adds 900 new definitions

June 18, 2018

With 600,000 words already defined, you would think it would be hard “to get a [new] word in edgewise” in the Oxford English Dictionary. But you would be wrong: More than 900 new words have been added to the dictionary this month

The editors describe the quarterly updates of the 90-year-old tome as “an exhiliarating aspect of [working with] a living language.”

Among the latest entries are words and phrases that have become mainstream over the past few years—including, in no special order:

  • Microagression: A statement, action or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination or prejudice against members of a marginalized groups such as a racial minority;
  • Lorem ipsum: A form of sample text used by graphic designers to demonstrate the textual layout of a document before it has been finalized;
  • Spoiler alert: A warning to readers that an important detail of the story is about to be divulged;
  • Imposter syndrome: The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved;
  • Precariat: A class of people whose employment, income, and living standards are insecure or precarious;
  • Zero-hours: A contract of employment that does not include a guarantee of regular work for the employee;
  • Binge-watch: To watch multiple episodes of a TV program consecutively or in rapid succession;
  • Energy vampire: A being that feeds on energy (in various senses); and
  • Silent generation: The generation born before the Baby Boomers (roughly from the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s), perceived as tending toward conformity or restrain in the outlook and behavior.

Coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the publication of The House at Pooh Corner, several words from Winnie-the-Pooh have also been added to the OED in this edition, as a tribute, including Eeyore (a pessimistic, gloomy, or habitually disconsolate person) and Heffalump (a child’s word for elephant).

Research contact: @kconnormartin

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