by Graham Pierrepoint
There’s been more than a few interesting words and phrases added to the Oxford English Dictionary over the years, and as it is largely seen as the leading authority on the English lexicon bar none, it has sometimes been tricky to follow their lead on certain terms and phrases which have otherwise faded from use. With over 820,000 words already logged and with more being added all the time, keeping a close eye on what’s next to be passed through the OED’s hall of fame is always interesting – and in recent weeks, over 1000 new words have been given the honor of joining the incredible pantheon of words that has already been collated.
Among these words are ‘hangry’, which means to be irritable as a result of being hungry, ‘swag’ which is popularly used as a contraction of swagger and is used to profess confidence, and ‘mansplaining’, which has been widely coined to cover cases of something being explained in a patronising manner – particularly towards women. These are all words which are still relatively young on the whole – meaning that it is intriguing that they have been leapt on so quickly by the team at the OED.
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Recent news stories have also allowed words such as ‘ransomware’ to be added to the list – which is a particularly malicious code or piece of software designed to effectively hold a system or batch of data to ransom until a demand is met. One of the most high-profile victims of ransomware in recent times is the British National Health Service, whose patient records were put on lockdown following an attack by a particularly nasty strain.
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‘Snowflake’ is an example of a word which now has an alternative definition; largely being used to define someone who may be hyper-sensitive and/or who may feel that they require specific consideration – this term has popped up online most of all during political debate, meaning that its relevance has never been more prevalent.
The OED bases all of its inclusions on their importance in modern society and prevalence in modern culture – some of these terms and phrases may even be older than you think! While we may not necessarily be using all of these words in a few years’ time, the tome always bears referring to as an interesting look back at where certain words originally came from.