Woot! Retweet and sexting enter The Oxford English dictionary
Published 18/08/2011 | 13:51
"Retweet", "sexting" and "cyberbullying" are officially words, according to the latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary.
Other new words in the centenary anniversary of the dictionary are "woot" (used in electronic communication to express elation, enthusiasm, or triumph) and "jeggings" (a cross between leggings and jean).
The twelfth edition of the dictionary, featuring 400 new words among 240,000 entries, sees new technology and social trends featuring heavily, just as they did in the first edition in 1911.
Then, new words included "marconigram" (a wireless message), "kinematograph" (equipment producing moving pictures), and "biplane" (an aircraft with two sets of wings).
The latest edition includes "retweet" (to forward a message on Twitter), "sexting" (to send sexually explicit messages by mobile phone) and "cyberbullying" (to use communications technology to intimidate or harass).
Henry and George Fowler, who were brothers, compiled the first edition in their cottage in Guernsey. The 1911 dictionary includes "blouse" (then a workman's loose linen garment) and "frock" (a monk's gown). Cancan was described as "an indecent dance" while neon is defined as "a lately discovered atmospheric gas".
The new words were selected after being entered into a database of 2 billion words drawn from contemporary websites and texts to prove their ubiquity.
Angus Stevenson, the dictionary's editor, said: "It's how the dictionary has always worked - we get as much evidence as we can so we know it's not just a small number of people using the word and it's not going to disappear.
"There's no official panel of cabinet ministers for new words or anything like that," he told Channel 4 News.
The internet and social media have had a huge impact on creating new words and circulating neologisms at speed.
"For example, woot - I don't use it personally, but that's not relevant. It's someone saying hurrah on Facebook, then their friends see it, and it spreads."
New words reflect the society and era in which they enter the dictionary, he said.
"We have added 'surveil' - to keep a person or place under surveillance. Our society is certainly more observed and monitored, people do feel that, so this is a typical word of this time."