Oxford’s Online Dictionary Adds 21st Century-Friendly Words

Those of us who have tossed around phrases like “bro hug’’ and “binge watch’’ will be pleased to know that Oxford’s online dictionary has taken notice of such popular 21st century phrases.

In the August update of the online Oxford Dictionaries — not to be confused with the hard copy Oxford English Dictionary — a variety of new words from the worlds of popular culture, technology, and the news have been added to their website.

While some of the new selections — like “live-tweet’’ — seem pretty self-explanatory to those who have at least heard of Twitter, other terms, such as “hot mess’’ and “FML’’ might prove mind-boggling to older generations.


Hopefully, these now-legitimized words will only aid comprehension across age groups, rather than leaving grandparents “throwing shade’’ or showing teens and tweens mad “side-eye.’’

For you word purists who feel dismayed over the recent additions, have no fear: The Oxford English Dictionary is the more serious branch of Oxford University Press, and OED editors require words to have a much more historical significance for addition. Like, “Godwinian’’ and “agnoiology.’’ Don’t even ask.

How do new words get added to Oxford Dictionaries?

Every year, hundreds of new English words and expressions emerge, which Oxford University Press monitors. According to Oxford Dictionaries website, once they have evidence of a phrase or word, like “selfie,’’ being used in a variety of different contexts, it becomes a candidate for inclusion in one of their dictionaries. They then select the words they deem the most significant or important.

It used to be that a word had to remain significant for a period of two to three years before they’d consider adding it to a print dictionary, but in the digital age, words gain cultural currency in a much shorter period of time. Currently, Oxford Dictionaries updates their web collection of words every three months.


Here’s a breakdown of some of the notable new Oxford Dictionaries lingo:

-acquihire (n.): Buying out a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff.

-amazeballs (adj.): Extremely good or impressive; amazing.

-anti-vax (adj.): Opposed to vaccination.

-binge-watch (v.): To watch multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming.

-bro hug (n.): Another term for man hug, or a friendly embrace between two men.

-catfish (v.): To lure someone into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona.

-clickbait (n.): Internet content that is sensational or provocative, and whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

-cray (adj.): Crazy.

-dox (v.): To search for and publish private or identifying information about someone on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

-e-cig (n.): Another term for electronic cigarette.

-FML (vulgar slang): F— my life! (Used to express dismay at a frustrating or irritating personal situation.)

-fratty (adj.): Characteristic of a student fraternity or its members (often with reference to rowdy behavior.)

-hot mess (n.): A person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered.

-ICYMI (abbreviation): In case you missed it.

-live-tweet (v.): To post comments about an event on Twitter while the event is taking place.

-selfie (n.): A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

-side-boob (n.): The side part of a woman’s breast, as exposed by a revealing item of clothing.


-side-eye (n.): A sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt.

-SMH (abbreviation): Shaking my head (used in electronic communication to express disapproval or frustration.)

-vape (v.): To inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.

-YOLO (abbreviation): You only live once (used to express the view that one should make the most of the present moment. It is often used to justify reckless behavior.)

Have suggestions for other new words? Tweet them to me @Jhofherr29.

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