Thanks, Miley: ‘Twerking’ Now Added to Oxford Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary updates their vocabulary by adding ‘twerk’, ‘selfie’ and many more popular in the web.

Oxford Dictionaries is responsible for a range of reference works, including Oxford Dictionaries Online, which focuses on modern usage, and the historically-focused Oxford English Dictionary, which probably won’t be adding “twerk” to its venerable pages any time soon. Photo: Pc Clean/Flickr

Oxford Dictionaries Online is adding a slew of words that only recently came into general usage, many driven by fast-moving trends in technology and culture.

The English dictionary approved such words as ‘phablet’, ‘selfie’, ‘twerk’ and some other now became official. It is one of a number of relatively new words that have sprinted into recognition. In a blog post, the Oxfordites say they have expedited some words that are “buzzworthy.”

‘Twerking’ has definitely seen a rise in popularity lately, perhaps due in part to Miley Cyrus’ viral bunny suit video, or just because of the ever-expanding reach of hip-hop culture.

Although Cyrus’s eye-popping moves at the VMAs may have been many viewers’ first introduction to the practice, Oxford Dictionaries’ Katherine Connor Martin said “twerking” was some two decades old.

“There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure,” Martin said.

“We think the most likely theory is that it is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to ‘work it.’ The ‘t’ could be a result of blending with another word such as twist or twitch.”

“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 popularised by Chubby Checker’s song, the Twist.

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

“Twerk” will be added to the dictionary as part of its quarterly update, which includes words such as “selfie,” the word typically used to describe pouty smartphone self-portraits, “digital detox” for time spent way from Facebook and Twitter, and “Bitcoin,” for the nationless electronic currency whose gyrations have also caught the world’s eye.

Other words such as ‘omnishambles’ and ‘selfie’ also made their debut in the dictionary’s quarterly online update. Omnishambles was named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionary in 2012.

The word – meaning a situation which is shambolic from every possible angle – was coined in 2009 by the writers of BBC political satire The Thick of It.

‘Selfie,’ the word typically used to describe pouty smartphone self-portraits, ‘digital detox’ for time spent way from Facebook and Twitter, and ‘Bitcoin,’ for the nationless electronic currency whose gyrations have also caught the world’s eye, ‘Cakepop’ for a small round piece of cake coated with icing or chocolate and fixed on the end of a stick so as to resemble a lollipop.

The definition: “Twerk, v.: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

Oxford University Press publishes both the ODO and the more famous Oxford English Dictionary (OED). These words are only going into the ODO, which prides itself on staying up-to-date with modern lingo. The OED describes itself as a “historic dictionary” and never removes any words, even if they fall out of use, writes Quartz.

Approximately 1.8billion new words are detected each year, but just around 1,000 of those make it into the dictionary.

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