Monday, September 7, 2009

The Changing Dictionary

“Dictionaries are always fun, but not always reassuring.” – M.F.K. Fisher

According to a recent article, "Twitter and Gourmet Sex: They’re in the Dictionary Now," on, the 30th Anniversary of the Collins English Dictionary was published on September 3, with over 260 new entries.

“To qualify for inclusion in the esteemed lexicon, a word had to have, over the past two years, six quality citations in Collins' digital corpus, a computerized database that scans 2.5 billion words across a number of print and online resources.”
Among the new words this year, I picked out a few of my favorites:

carborexics - those obsessed with reducing their carbon footprint
ecotarian - a person who only eats food that has been produced in an environmentally friendly manner
frugalista - a person who tries to stay fashionably dressed on a budget
glamping - glamorous camping
ponzimonium - financial turmoil in the wake of uncovering Ponzi schemes

I guess because I'm such a fuddy-duddy (is that still a word?), I don’t believe that OMG (oh my god), WTF (what the f__) are words. However, they have been included in the dictionary along with the sounds of hmm, heh and mwah (exaggerated kiss). According to Duncan Black, editor of the dictionary, “They’re part of the language of microblogging.”

Of course, to add new words, they first had to make room by deleting others.
Another article, "24 Words the CED Wants to Exuviate (Shed)," also on, lists some of the words that may have been cut. Had I know they were words to begin with, I may have used them and saved their jobs. Now I guess it’s too late. It’s too bad, because some of them seem like such good words. For instance:

compossible - possible in coexistence with something else
embrangle - to confuse
fubsy - squat
malison - a curse
muliebrity - the condition of being a woman
niddering - cowardly
skirr - a whirring sound, as of the wings of birds in flight

On a different topic, I hope everyone is enjoying their long Labor Day weekend. Here’s a little trivia about the day to impress those around you. The first Labor Day observance was in New York City on September 5, 1882. By 1884 other cities observed the holiday honoring working people and in 1894 it became a Federal Holiday.

Last but not least, I would like to thank Nancy Sharpe from Realms of Thought on Fantasy, Writing & Children’s Literature for the One Lovely Blog Award. Her blog is always interesting and fun to read and I’m honored to have received this from her. Though I know there are lots of deserving blogs, many of the sites I frequent have already received this award or I’ve already passed another award to them recently. In other words I’m at a loss of who to pass this along to. I guess this is a sign I need to get busy and explore more blogs. I hope I’ll be forgiven for keeping this one for myself – at least for a while. I also hope you’ll visit Nancy’s blog and the other blogs she’s passed awards on to.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Fisher, Dictionary, One Lovely Blog Award, Nancy Sharpe, Labor Day,


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Okay, I don't think Twitter and IM words should be allowed! There's thousands of abbreviated little words that would be included then, giving lazy teenagers permission to use in their term papers and such. (Was BRB in there? LOL?)

Mwah - okay that's funny. And what the heck is Gourmet Sex?

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I totally agree with you, Diane. Next time I'm at the bookstore, I'll have to take a look in the dictionary to see if BRB and LOL are included. Btw- what is BRB?

Gourmet Sex is defined in the article as "Love making that is particularly passionate and enjoyable."

Karen Walker said...

I love love love the things you come up with to share with us. I so struggle with these letters that are not words. Took me months to find out what lol was. People use DH all the time. What is it?
I'm so out of touch, it's ridiculous. Love mwah.

Helen Ginger said...

Lord, I feel so old! I didn't know any of those words. And I'm with Diane - what is Gourmet Sex? Sounds like something you're find in a NY restaurant.

Karen, I figured out DH stands for Dear Husband, I think. I could be wrong, though.

Straight From Hel

JennyMac said...

Twitter made it into a dictionary? WOW...

gourmet sex at least sounds more compelling than Twitter.

K. A. Laity said...

BRB = be right back

Gourmet sex = "lovemaking that is particularly passionate and enjoyable" according to the article.

Don't despair: words go in and out of fashion, like everything else. I think I will have to try to bring back "muliebrity" with a new angle of describing the celebrated state of being a woman.

John A. Allen said...

A while ago, I noticed that I started saying "brb" (pron: burb) to my wife, meaning "Be right back." She didn't bat an eyelash, and it's grown into common usage between us.

But last week, when I responded with "lol" to something she said, she made sure to bring it to my attention.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Well, finally. As a ecotarian and frugalista, I was concerned for the carborexics out there. But, I figured, what the heck and was gonna go glamping until I read about the ponaimonium. Sigh. It was all too embrangling for me. Oh, wait, that’s no longer a word. Sorry.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Oh no! I hate it when they get rid of real words and put in cool words.

Honestly, I'd rather have an e-dictionary that has ALL the words in it. That way I can find some useful, uncommon words and can also know what my son is texting other kids! :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Karen, you're not alone - I struggle with letters that aren't words, too.

Helen, for all I know gourmet sex may be on the menu at some New York restaurant! Thanks for letting us know what DH stands for.

Gourmet Sex does sound a lot more interesting than Twitter, JennyMac

K.A. – Duh, I should have been able to figure out BRB. Thanks for clearing that up, I guess we need to make sure we use the words we want brought back.

John, I guess the editor of the dictionary was right as you’ve just shown that the letters standing for words are becoming a part of our vocabulary without us even realizing it.

Very clever, Galen. I wish I’d thought of turning all those words into a sentence.

Elizabeth, an e-dictionary is an excellent idea. I sure could use one.

Alexis Grant said...

One blog visit and I'm several words smarter!

N A Sharpe said...

Wow - if the textized versions of words are allowed that is giving permission for the horrific spelling that is coming from all the shortcuts. Sad day.

Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

The Old Silly said...

Fascatin post and information! Good grief - now even acronyms short for swear words are in the Dictionary? lol

So did "fuggedaboudit" make it in?

Neat post!

Marvin D Wilson

Anonymous said...

Geez, I hadn't even heard of some of these words and they're already in the dictionary? I guess I'm pretty behind on the times.

Anonymous said...

I;m always in need of expanding my vocabulary. I used to do a word for the day, then look up the synonyms. I need to start doing this again.

Stephen Tremp

Morgan Mandel said...

The world is definitely changing. People can make up words and next thing you know they end up in a dictionary.

Morgan Mandel

dirtywhitecandy said...

Fascinated by the idea of some words being culled. Most of them I have to confess I haven't heard of, but skirr? I've even used that one! And can you uninvent words or remainder them?

Interesting post, thanks!

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world