Oxford English Dictionary adds new words, phrases


by J.T. Buchheit

News Editor


The Oxford English Dictionary comes out with a list of new words and phrases four times a year. The most recent update was in December 2015, with around 500 entries introduced. The full list of new entries can be found here. Among these additions are “phablet,” “waybread,” “bank of mom and dad” and “yes way.”

“I think that’s interesting,” said student Nick Wilson. “I wouldn’t expect those to be in a dictionary, and if I saw them I’d be amused.”

The OED mainly gets its new words from the Oxford English Corpus and the Oxford Reading Programme, which include full-length documents and volunteers from around the globe who submit words and phrases to be considered for entry. While many may agree that certain words should be added, there are also numerous additions that could be considered less deserving.

“I think ‘phablet’ should be added because everybody knows what that is, but I think the other ones are kind of idiotic,” said student Helen Baillie. “If it’s a functional word that actually has a practical meaning, sure, but something that’s just a phrase or is slang, then it shouldn’t be added.”

The OED has its share of detractors, but Gwen Flipse, secretary of the Writing Center, believes it serves a useful purpose.

“It’s not for everyone,” Flipse said. “But if you like words, if you like to know the histories behind words and you want to know about a word’s friends and relations, then it’s kind of a fun adventure.”

Despite the large number of words and phrases introduced to the OED every four months, there are still words people think should be added that don’t currently exist in the dictionary.

“I think ‘flupp’ and ‘fantabulous’ should be in the dictionary,” said Wilson. “I’ve heard them used a fair amount of times, so I think they deserve to be in there.”

While “flupp” has not yet made the cut, “fantabulous” was added to the OED in 1959. Due to the large amount of informal words added every year, some may question the quality of the words allowed into the dictionary.

“I think the Oxford Dictionary people are awfully careful about what they let in,” said Flipse. “They don’t want to be in too big of a hurry to just let in any old thing. The new words that they add are not necessarily words that I would use or that I would even know how to use, but I like that they want to document new things that have a high probability of staying around and not getting lost in the shuffle.”

Although some may dislike the OED due to its propensity to allow many seemingly ridiculous words and phrases to grace its pages, it has been going strong since 1884 and shows no signs of slowing down.

For more information about the Oxford English Dictionary, visit their website.


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