WAURIKA, Jan 30, 2013 (Waurika News-Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Well, I've been on a word kick lately, but please indulge me for one more column on the subject, then I'll move on.
One of the things I love about words is they are kinda the Legos of communication -- with enough of them, you can build just about anything, including a stairway to heaven. (Sorry, was listening to a classic rock station yesterday and heard Stairway to Heaven for the four billionth time. Now it's become my earworm.)
Anyway, words are wonderful in their volume. There are millions of them and when there aren't enough words to express what you mean, you can make up some.
That's right, even if a word isn't in the dictionary, that doesn't necessarily mean it's not a word. It just means dictionarists haven't gotten around to formally anointing the word to be part of a dictionary. The linguists haven't gotten together at a linguist convention (Imagine the fun at that event!) and given their blessing to a new word or phrase created by some vocabularian.
In the past year, dictionarists (Yes, a word I made up.) who update the Oxford English Dictionary added to what the OED folks call their "definitive tome." (That in itself is a suspicious phrase, since how can something be definitive if you keep adding to it )
Anyway (again), here are a few words sanctified in 2012 by inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary:
- Tweeps: A person's followers on Twitter; i.e., "Later, tweeps! Love youse."
- Ridic: Ridiculously proficient or good; as in, "The way Joe Bonamassa plays guitar is just ridic."
- Genius: Being used as an adjective to reflect someone being very clever or ingenious; like, "Oh, wow, Conan O'Brien is totally genius."
- Abbreves: Abbreviations. (Of course, in Social Media Land, you need an abbreve for abbreves.)
However, the folks at OED aren't the only wordarians who expanded the lexicon last year. Others around the globe were busy giving meaning to new words. Take the lingomiesters who do research for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: their version of the definitive tome grew by a few dozen new words in 2012.
Among new words going into the 2012 Merriam-Webster Dictionary were:
- Mash-up: Something created by combining elements from two or more sources. A technique used in movie trailers, viral videos, etc.
- Cloud computing: Storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers accessed through the Internet.
- Gassed: Drained of energy. (Can also be used to describe a degree of intoxication.)
- Game changer: A newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.
- Obesogenic: An environment where something or some pattern is suspected of putting people at risk for obesity.
- Flexitarian: Someone whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.
- Aha moment: A moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, etc. (Blame Oprah for this one.)
- Underwater: Let's just say you're "underwater" when you owe more on your mortgage than your property is worth.
- Systematic risk: The risk that the failure of one financial institution could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole. (Simpler meaning: Wall Street during the first seven or eight years of the 21st century.)
- Man cave: Uh, if you're a male and you have one, you know what it means. If you're a husband and/or father you know why you have one.
- F-bomb: Sorry, I know this is a family newspaper, but we can thank a couple vice presidents (Dick Cheney and Joe Biden) for taking the F-bomb out of the don't-say-that-in-polite-company closet and putting it into the halls of the Senate.
- Earworm: A song or melody that keeps repeating in one's mind.
See, I wasn't making up "earworm" when I used it several paragraphs back. Credit Stephen King for providing a word to describe songs that get stuck in your head and are enough to drive you bonkers.
You know, like, oh, Stairway to Heaven.
"There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold, and she's buying ..."
See, an earworm is crawling through my gray matter again!
-- Jeff Kaley is managing editor of the News-Democrat
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