OMG! I ♥ OED! LOL!!
When you think of the Oxford English Dictionary, what comes to mind? A thick, dusty book that is on your parents’ bookshelf, but hardly ever used? Well, it’s time to change that view. Because today’s Oxford English Dictionary or OED is just as modern and cool as you are.
Recently, OED added thousands of new words to its already impressive collection, which is also available online. And some of these words are not what you would expect to see in the world’s first English dictionary. They are acronyms you and your friends use everyday when you chat, email, or text. Words like “OMG” (Oh My God), “BFF” (best friend forever), “LOL” (laugh out loud), and the dictionary’s first graphic symbol, ♥(love), among others.
Also regional food words like “bánh mì”(a Vietnamese sandwich) and “taquito” (a small Mexican flour roll with filling) have been added, as have “sammich” or sandwich, email, and “la-la land” for the city of Los Angeles, USA, which OED explains in a tongue and cheek way “can refer either to Los Angeles or to a state of being out of touch with reality—and sometimes to both simultaneously.”
Oldest, Most Respected
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the oldest and most respected English dictionary, first published more than 150 years ago. It is considered to be the ultimate collection of words and currently contains 600,000 words and 3 million quotations from over 1,000 years of English.
The OED was first conceived by the Philological Society of London in 1857, as a four volume series that was to be completed in ten years. James Murray was chosen as the editor. However, five years down the road, when Murray and his colleagues had only reached the word 'ant', it was time to revise timelines and get additional help. Multiple people joined the effort, including a prisoner serving time for a murder. Even J.R.R Tolkien worked on the OED -- his focus, the letter 'W'!
Samuel Johnson was responsible for the overall look and feel of the first OED, where each word was defined and illustrated with quotes. The first volume (A-Ant) came out 27 years later, with the final 12-volume OED completed in 1928.
Keeping Up With Times
Dictionaries like Oxford and Webster’s regularly revise and add to their word collections to reflect how English is spoken today. However, this was Oxford’s most detailed update and included 1,900 word updates and nearly 46,000 new words. A word is added or revised after it has been around for a few years. And once a word gets into the dictionary, it stays there forever.
In the past, OED has added words like “muggle” the “Harry Potter” term for humans who don’t have magical powers, “screenager” for a young person who is a computer and internet expert, and “doh,” the cartoon character Homer Simpson’s favorite expression when things go wrong, or when someone says or does something foolish. And in keeping with today’s world of social media, Oxford recently also changed the noun “friend” into a verb, as in ‘to friend’ or add someone as your friend on Facebook.
Are you ready to make OED your “BFF” (best friend forever)? LOL!!