'Twerk' dancing and 'selfie' photos added to English dictionary

LONDON Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:42am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - "Twerk", a provocative dance move that has gone viral, and "selfie" a photograph taken of oneself using a phone, are two new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary on Wednesday.

The dictionary has included words such as "twerk", "selfie", "digital detox" and the social media meaning of the verb "unlike" in its latest quarterly update to reflect the increasing use of technology and social media.

Spokeswoman Katherine Connor Martin said the dictionary, which is one of the largest dictionaries in the world and dates back 150 years, adds about 1,000 new entries to its online version every year.

She said the word "twerk" has been around for 20 years but has generated enough evidence of usage to be added to its online dictionaries with U.S. pop star Miley Cyrus hitting headlines this week for "twerking" at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Arising in the early 1990s, the word is described in the dictionary as "a dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance".

"The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker's song, 'The Twist'," said Connor Martin.

"Only time will tell if twerking will similarly be embraced by the general public."

Other words such as "unlike", the withdrawal of approval on social media, "digital detox", where a person refrains from using smartphones or computers, and "fomo" or fear of missing out - anxiety that an interesting event may be happening elsewhere, have also been added.

"Omnishambles", a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations is also among the new entries, originating from the British political comedy TV series "The Thick of It".

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Comments (3)
nodnarb wrote:
This story is factually inaccurate. I’m really surprised to see Reuters get this wrong.

From the Oxford University Press website:

It is important to note that the new words mentioned above have been added to Oxford Dictionaries Online, not the Oxford English Dictionary. Why is this?
• The dictionary content in ODO focuses on current English and includes modern meanings and uses of words
• The OED, on the other hand, is a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, including many obsolete and historical terms. Words are never removed from the OED.

Aug 28, 2013 5:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
zornwil wrote:
I really am disappointed to see Reuters misreporting this; the OED did not add the words, at least not yet, the ODO did, as another commenting party has indicated. Please fix this article.

Aug 29, 2013 1:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bleuz00m wrote:
Dear Reuters,
Was the oxforddictionaries.com’s press release ‘TL;DR?’ The Oxford Dictionaries Online is not the same thing as the Oxford English Dictionary. Here, re-read this:
http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/august-2013-update/

#ODOisnotOED!

Aug 29, 2013 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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