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Wake up and smell ODO’s latest additions!

There is very little that thrills the heart of a lexicographer quite so much as the smell of new words. Fresh, piquant, and uncluttered by the barnacle-like clichés that attach themselves to so many words which have been around for hundreds of years, these recent additions to the language breathe fresh life into it, and continually remind us that English is a living, dynamic organism.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most recent words added to, from the heavy hitters to the most lighthearted of exclamations.

In the news

As one might expect, many of the words and phrases that have achieved prominence in the past few years are tied to current events. Thus we see phrases such as top kill and shovel ready enter the dictionary shortly after the oil spill in the Gulf Coast and the government stimulus program put these terms on everyone’s lips.

The economic meltdown has given rise to

a large number of new words, as we’ve struggled to not only solve the fiscal crisis, but also to describe its causes and possible solutions. So we now have agflation and avoision, stress tests and CSR.

TBH, it’s TMI

Technology tends to be one of the few fields that consistently engenders more new words than finance and calamity, and recent years have proved to not be exceptional in this regard. After a series of highly publicized and tragic events, the word cyberbullying entered our lives, as did scareware, sexting, and clickjacking.

However, not all of the recent technological terms describe things you’d rather not experience, or that you might well regret having done one day. We’ve also seen the addition of utterly fascinating words such as crowdsourcing, the whimsical and playful creation of textspeak, and the joyous exultation of woot.

Woot is primarily in use in electronic communication, as are many of the abbreviated and often informal initialisms entering English of late (such as TBH, TMI, or PPC). But there are plenty of other informal or colloquial words entering English that have not sprung from the maw of the Internet. We now have the game changer, the bromance, and whisperers of all stripes.

Today’s America

In addition to informal words, we’ve also included a number of distinctly American words and phrases. These range from the political (American Party, birther, and truther) to the geographic (Northern Tier andSouthern Tier). We take note as well of variations in spelling and pronunciation that have taken root firmly enough that they have a life distinct from the words they once were (sammich, who’da, and prolly).


Welcome to some new global borrowings

Food and drink provide a seemingly inexhaustible bounty of fresh coinages—recent additions include babycino, pulled pork, and nom nom. And English is continually importing fresh culinary words from other countries, having recently taken on banh mi from Vietnam, chermoula from North Africa, gremolata from Italy, and kleftiko from Greece.

These four foods may come from four different lands, and all are new to our language, but the way in which they are assimilated is nothing new—English has been vacuuming up new words in this manner for over a thousand years, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Our language doesn’t just assimilate food words from foreign climes; we’ve also of late seen the addition of hentai from Japan and luchador and lucha libre from Mexico.

Come by to see what’s fresh, in the language and in, and to see if you have a taste for that new word smell.

The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.