Every year, there’s a set of new words added to dictionary collections around the world. But this year’s batch, which includes bromance, tramp stamp, lipstick lesbian, and hater, have people scratching their heads.
Why Are New Words Added To Dictionary Collections?
As both society and technology evolve, new words need to be added to the dictionary on a regular basis. Terms like social media, Internet, OTT, and podcast didn’t exist until recently. While there isn’t much debate on words like these, it’s the fringe terms that has scholars raising their eyebrows.
The Time When “Truthiness” Got Added To The Dictionary
Adding unconventional words and phrases to the dictionary might sound like a strange practice, but it’s not a rare occurrence.
Stephen Colbert successfully convinced linguists that “truthiness” is a real and honorable word to be formally acknowledged.
Sure enough, it was recently announced that Colbert’s vocab staple was among some of the new American slang words, including Tramp Stamp to make it to the pages of the latest edition of the Oxford American Dictionary.
But “truthiness” has already been in the dictionary for several years. In 2005 it was named the American Dialect Society‘s Word of the Year, and in 2006, Mirriam-Webster bestowed the same honor.
The recent addition of “truthiness” in the Oxford Dictionary just goes to show how impactful some of these fringe word can be. In case you are curious, the Oxford’s definition for “truthiness” goes something like this:
“truthiness n. informal the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true. – ORIGIN early 19th cent. (in the sense ‘truthfulness’): coined in the modern sense by US humorist Stephen Colbert (1964–).”
This Year’s New Words Added To Dictionary – Oxford American Dictionary (2010)
There are other, far less predictable, no less profound words now also apart of the (thus far) esteemed Oxford American Dictionary (OAD). This year’s inductions include:
- bromance n. informal a close but nonsexual relationship between two men. – ORIGIN early 21st cent.: blend of brother and romance.
- defriend v. another term for unfriend.
- unfriend v. (with obj.) informal remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site:she broke up with her boyfriend, but she hasn’t unfriended him.
- LMAO abbr. vulgar slang laughing my ass off.
- tramp stamp n. informal a tattoo on a woman’s lower back.
- hater n. a person who greatly dislikes a specified person or thing: a man hater | he’s not a hater of modern music. informal a negative or critical person: she found it difficult to cope with the haters.
… need I go on? Fine. There’s also hashtag, BFF, carbon credit, gal pal and vuvuzela. And dozens more. The larger list can be found below. The reader comments on a related CNN post had me LMAO. The “what-is-the-world-coming-to” academic elite are going to have to bear down and accept it. These new American slang words are here to stay.
Expanded List Of The New Words Added To Oxford American Dictionary
In case you have time to explore more of the new phrases and new words added to the dictionary, here’s an expanded list.
BFF n. (pl. BFFs) informal a girl’s best friend: my BFF’s boyfriend is cheating on her.
– ORIGIN 1996: from the initial letters of best friend forever.
big media n. (treated as sing. or pl.) the main means of mass communication (i.e., television, radio, and the press), as opposed to blogs or other personal websites.
bromance n. informal a close but nonsexual relationship between two men.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: blend of brother and romance.
carbon credit n.a permit that allows a country or organization to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions and that can be traded if the full allowance is not used.
carbon offsetting n. the counteracting of carbon dioxide emissions with an equivalent reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
cloud computing n. the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.
credit crunch n. a sudden sharp reduction in the availability of money or credit from banks and other lenders: the beleaguered company has become the latest victim of the credit crunch.
defriend v. another term for unfriend.
eggcorn n. a word or phrase that results from a mishearing or misinterpretation of another, an element of the original being substituted for one that sounds very similar or identical (e.g., tow the line instead of toe the line).
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: with reference to a misinterpretation of acorn.
exit strategy n. a preplanned means of extricating oneself from a situation that is likely to become difficult or unpleasant.
gal pal n. informal a female friend.
green audit n. an assessment of a business in terms of its impact on the environment.
green-collar adj. denoting or relating to employment concerned with products and services designed to improve the quality of the environment: green-collar jobs.
– ORIGIN on the pattern of white-collar and blue-collar.
hashtag n. (on social networking websites such as Twitter) a hash or pound sign (#) used to identify a particular keyword or phrase in a posting.
hater n. a person who greatly dislikes a specified person or thing: a man hater | he’s not a hater of modern music.
informal a negative or critical person: she found it difficult to cope with the haters.
hockey mom n. informal a mother who devotes a great deal of time and effort to supporting her children’s participation in ice hockey.
homeshoring n. the practice of transferring employment that was previously carried out in a company’s office or factory to employees’ homes.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: on the pattern of offshoring.
homesourcing n. another term for homeshoring.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: on the pattern of outsourcing (see outsource).
hypermiling n. the practice of making adjustments to a vehicle or using driving techniques that will maximize the vehicle’s fuel economy.
– DERIVATIVES hypermiler n.
Interweb n. humorous the Internet.
LBD n. (pl. LBDs) informal little black dress: you can’t go wrong with an LBD for premières or parties.
– ORIGIN abbreviation.
lipstick lesbian n. informal a lesbian who favors a glamorous, traditionally feminine style.
LMAO abbr. vulgar slang laughing my ass off.
megachurch n. a church with an unusually large congregation, typically one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity.
parkour (also parcour) n. the activity or sport of running through an area, typically in an urban environment, using acrobatic techniques to negotiate obstacles.
– ORIGIN early 21st cent.: French, alteration of parcours ‘route, course.’
paywall n. (on a website) an arrangement whereby access is restricted to users who have paid to subscribe to the site.
quantitative easing n. Finance the introduction of new money into the money supply by a central bank.
social media n. (treated as sing. or pl.) websites and applications used for social networking.
social networking n. the use of dedicated websites and applications to communicate informally with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself.
staycation n. informal a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions. – ORIGIN early 21st cent.: blend of stay1 and vacation.
steampunk n. a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
tag cloud n. a visual depiction of the word content of a website, or of user-generated tags attached to online content, typically using color and font size to represent the prominence or frequency of the words or tags depicted.
tramp stamp n. informal a tattoo on a woman’s lower back.
truthiness n. informal the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.
– ORIGIN early 19th cent. (in the sense ‘truthfulness’): coined in the modern sense by US humorist Stephen Colbert (1964–).
TTYL abbr. informal talk to you later: Anyway, gotta run now! TTYL.
unfriend v. (with obj.) informal remove (someone) from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking site: she broke up with her boyfriend, but she hasn’t unfriended him.
vuvuzela n. S. African a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches.
– ORIGIN perhaps from Zulu.
wardrobe malfunction n. informal, humorous an instance of a person accidentally exposing an intimate part of their body as a result of an article of clothing slipping out of position.
waterboarding n. an interrogation technique simulating the experience of drowning, in which a person is strapped, face up, to a board that slopes downward at the head, while large quantities of water are poured over the face into the breathing passages.
webisode n. an episode, esp. from a television series, or short promotional film made for viewing online. – ORIGIN 1990s: blend of Web and episode.
zombie bank n. informal a financial institution that is insolvent but that continues to operate through government support.
be all that informal be very attractive or good: he thinks he’s all that—yeah, God’s gift.
my bad informal used to acknowledge responsibility for a mistake: Sorry about the confusion. It’s my bad.
the new black a color that is currently so popular that it rivals the traditional status of black as the most reliably fashionable color: brown is the new black this season.
like herding cats informal used to refer to a difficult or impossible task, typically an attempt to organize a group of people: controlling the members of this expedition is like herding cats.
cop to accept or admit to: there are a lot of people who don’t cop to their past.
what’s not to like? informal used as a rhetorical expression of approval or satisfaction: cleaner air, cooler temperatures, and mountain views—what’s not to like?
share a moment informal experience a joint sensation of heightened emotion: Alan and Barbara shared a moment yesterday after the memorial service.
talk the talk informal speak fluently or convincingly about something or in a way intended to please or impress others: we may not look like true rock jocks yet, but we talk the talk.
Old Words, New Senses
arc (in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme.
channel emulate or seem to be inspired by: Meg Ryan plays Avery as if she’s channeling Nicole Kidman.
cougar informal an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man.
flyover informal, derogatory denoting central regions of the US regarded as less significant than the East or West coasts: the flyover states.
friend noun – a contact associated with a social networking website.
verb – add (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.
hate (hate on) informal express strong dislike for; criticize or abuse: I can’t hate on them for trying something new.
heart like very much; love: I totally heart this song.
made man a man who has been formally inducted as a full member of the Mafia.
meme an image, video, phrase, etc., that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.
nimrod informal an inept person.
own informal utterly defeat or humiliate: yeah right, she totally owned you, man.
pimp informal make (something) more showy or impressive.
poke (on the social networking site Facebook) attract the attention of (another member of the site) by using the ‘poke’ facility.
riff perform a monologue or spoken improvisation on a particular subject: he also riffs on racism and the economy.
rock informal wear (a garment) or affect (an attitude or style), esp. in a confident or flamboyant way: she was rocking a clingy little leopard-skin number.
short Stock Exchange sell (stocks or other securities or commodities) in advance of acquiring them, with the aim of making a profit when the price falls.
soften (of a market, currency, or commodity) fall in value: the share price has softened recently.
straightedge (esp. among fans of hardcore punk music) having an ascetic or abstinent lifestyle: he’s so straightedge that he won’t even take Tylenol when he has a headache.
– a posting made on the social networking site Twitter: he started posting ‘tweets’ via his cell phone to let his parents know he was safe.
– make a posting on the social networking site Twitter.
viral an image, video, advertisement, etc., that is circulated rapidly on the Internet: the rise of virals in online marketing.
Embracing The New Words In The Dictionary
The “what-is-the-world-coming-to” academic elite are going to have to bear down and accept it. These new American slang words are here to stay.
What do you think about these new words in the dictionary? Let us know in the comments.
- Oops! Astronaut Loses Camera During Spacewalk
- Banana Dipped in Liquid Nitrogen and then Shot
- Say no to drugs with the Zip Zap Rap
Caroline Walker is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. She has worked in both the entertainment and the nonprofit sector. Walker holds a BA from the University of Southern California and an MA from New York University’s Gallatin School.