While Merriam and Oxford have both received coverage in recent weeks for their new words lists, there’s a bigger story here about stodgy dictionaries racing to keep up with rapidly evolving language in the age of social media.
After opening up its online dictionary to public suggestions in July, leading British publisher Collins today announced that it has approved its first batch of 86 new crowdsourced words and definitions.
More than 4,400 words have been submitted so far through CollinsDictionary.com, which will be updated once a month with the best user suggestions. All the new words – including bridezilla (“a woman whose behavior in planning details of her wedding is regarded as intolerable”), helicopter parent (“a parent who is excessively involved in the life of his or her child”) and tweetup (“a meeting at which people who communicate with each other via the social networking site Twitter meet face to face”) – were vetted by Collins editors using the publisher’s normal rigorous review process.
While other publishers are making annual or quarterly updates behind closed doors, Collins chose to capture changes to the English language in real time through public suggestions and comments. The result is an open, living dictionary that can keep up with the pace of social media and technology.
“Inviting the public into the submission and feedback process has given our editors immediate insight into the way the English language is evolving,” said Alex Brown, head of digital at Collins. “Because CollinsDictionary.com now accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, we will be able to better monitor emerging words as the pace of change within the English language continues to accelerate.”
Many of the new words and definitions originated from social media and technology, such as FaceTime, BBM and Bing. While most are brand-new words, Collins also updated some existing entries with new definitions – such as acknowledging that Facebook is now a verb and spinning can be used to describe “a form of high-intensity exercise using exercise bikes.” Other words have their roots in politics, science, business, humor, pop culture and entertainment.
Examples of other new words and definitions include:
• bashtag: a Twitter hashtag that is used for critical and abusive comments
• crowdfunding: the funding of a project by a large number of supporters who each contribute a small amount
• cyberstalking: the practice of using electronic communications to harass someone persistently
• floordrobe: informal a pile of clothes left on the floor of a room
• frenemy: a supposed friend who behaves in a treacherous manner
• hangry: irritable as a result of feeling hungry
• hyperconnectivity: the use of multiple systems and devices to remain constantly connected to social networks and streams of information
• new money: money and wealth that has not been inherited
• shabby chic: a style of interior design that uses worn or distressed furnishings to achieve a romantic effect
• thanx: informal thank you
Check out the full list of newly inducted words at www.collinsdictionary.com/whatsyourword.