14 jan 2014 A year in words
Have you taken many selfies recently? If so, was it because you were enjoying some me time, and wanted to share the moment with friends, or were you just in a bit of a dappy mood? Squee!
If you followed that paragraph, then well done, but perhaps it’s time to move on, as that was so 2013. Oxford Dictionaries announced at the end of last year that selfie (a photo you take of yourself ) was 2013’s word of the year. Other notable new words of 2013 were me time (time spent on your own relaxing or doing something you enjoy), dappy (silly and disorganised) and squee (an expression of happiness or delight).
Although not the first organisation to do so, since 2004 (2005 in USA), Oxford Dictionaries have announced a ‘word of the year’ every year, selected by their editorial staff. In 2008, it was credit crunch (used to describe the economic downturn in many European and North American countries), and in 2012 it was omnishambles (a complete mess, caused by a series of interconnected mistakes).
New words come into the English language every year, and there are widely varying estimates as to how many accepted words/phrases come into use. however, it is possible to identify some common origins of new words:
Common acronyms that came into English last year include apols, (apologies) grats (congratulations) and vom (vomit – used to show you think something’s disgusting – It made me want to vom). Others involve using the first letters of commonly used phrases, such as the following:
FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out i.e. the fear of not being able to keep up with the latest news or gossip, especially when using social media.
TL;DR – Too Long; Didn’t Read, common on forums and comments sections, to say that a person’s comment is too longwinded
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, a system whereby employees (or students) bring their own electronic devices to use for work or study.
A portmanteau word is formed from combining two other words. A common example being ‘brunch’ – a late breakfast formed from the words ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’. New portmanteau words in 2013 included:
phablet – a large smart phone, formed from ‘phone’ and ‘tablet’
jorts – ‘jeans’ + ‘shorts’
jeggings – ‘jeans ‘+ ‘leggings’, very tight jeans
Old words, new uses
Perhaps the largest source of new words is when established words take on different meanings. Here are four new words/phrases from 2013 formed in this way. Can you guess what they mean?
a food baby
the internet of things
Answers are now in the comments section below.
So what was your word of the year for 2013? Have you seen or used any of the words mentioned in this post? Can you think of any popular new words or phrases which have come into your language in the last year?
The American Dialect society (who created the first ‘word of the year’ announcement in 1991)’s 2014 word of the year
Wikipedia entry on the word of the year
Oxford Dictionaries word of the year blog
Merriam Webster’s word of the year
Oxford Dictionaries word of the year FAQ