The New Words that Offer a Startling Insight into Our Lives

OxfordDictionaries.com recently released an, as it describes, “mahoosive” update, adding dozens of new words to its online catalog. While there are a lot of fun new phrases and word uses, some offer an interesting glimpse into what’s currently on our minds.

The update of 1,000 terms means that editors at the site are confident they have enough independent evidence that these terms are in wide use. This doesn’t mean they get added to the official dictionary but rather OxfordDictionariers.com collects new words each month from across the world, adding to its database to detect new and emerging trends.

As such, here are a few that are particularly interesting for what they tell us about our lifestyles and our outlook on life at the moment:

Keyboard Warrior. While once keyboard warrior might have been a positive term, today it has taken on a decidedly negative meaning: “A person who makes abusive or aggressive posts on the Internet, typically one who conceals their true identity.” For online activists, then, we’ll want to avoid being associated with the term, unless of course we decide to claim it and make it a positive — which personally I think we should, because being a keyboard warrior sounds fantastic. 

Man Crush. A more positive term, closely related to “bromance,” whose usage perhaps signals a slight relaxing of rigid gender norms and a wider acceptance of male-male friendships that go beyond traditional boundaries. This informal term means, “An intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by one man for another; or a man who is the object of another’s intense liking or admiration.”

What’s nice about the phrase ‘man crush’ is that it is often used as a way for heterosexual men to admit that they particularly admire other men in an affectionate way, something that in the past was frowned upon.

Obamacare. This term probably needs no introduction. Once a negative way of discussing President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obamacare now seems to have entered general usage and has lost much of its negative sting.

Al desko. Statistics say that more and more of us are having to use our lunch hours to keep working, so it’s hardly surprising that we’ve coined a phrase for that. The informal term in use might look something like: “It’s lunch and I’m eating a vegan wrap al desko again. Sigh.”

Flash Crash. One of a number of economy-related terms to make the update this month, “flash crash” refers to “An extremely rapid decline in the price of one or more commodities or securities, typically one caused by automated trading.”

Crony Capitalism. A pejorative term, crony capitalism has gained prominence to describe relationships like perceptions of those between the Koch brothers and our government officials: “An economic system characterized by closemutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials.”

Digital Footprint. Given the importance of our online lives, the only surprising thing about this inclusion is that it wasn’t made sooner. The term refers to “The information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity.” For instance, this might mean the impression we can gather from looking at social media profiles, and it raises important privacy questions like, should an employer be allowed to make hiring and firing decisions based on our digital footprint alone?

Misery Index. Another economy-related term that has made its way into wider use, a so-called misery index is an ”informal measure of the state of an economy generated by adding together its rate of inflation and its rate of unemployment.” This perhaps suggests how unhappy many nations in the West are about how the economy has been handled and how joblessness is prominent in the public consciousness. 

It’s “Totes” Not All Serious Though!

Fortunately, there are plenty of fun words that have also made it into the OxfordDictionaries.com update this December.

Just a few that caught my eye are:

Hawt. “That’s hawt. He’s so hawt. Everything’s hawt.” Cheers, Paris Hilton.

MAMIL. Possibly related to the above, MAMIL stands for middle-aged man in Lycra, and usually refers to keen cyclists though apparently was first used in Australia to refer to certain kinds of swimmers.

Five-Second Rule. Surely everyone knows the five-second rule? If food drops on the floor, it remains edible if you pick it up within five seconds. OxfordDictionaries incorrectly states that this is “notional,” as in not true. I beg to differ. It is scientific fact. (It isn’t, don’t sue me when you get a food-borne ailment.)

Simples. A phrase made popular by a British car insurance ad that features talking (and rather posh) meerkats. It can be used as in: “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Simples!”

LOLcat. A list of new terms wouldn’t be complete without a nod to our favorite funny cats. OxfordDictionaries notes in its dry explanation: “photograph of a cat accompanied by a humorous caption written typically in a misspelled and grammatically incorrect version of English.”

What’s that, you would like an example? Well, if you insist:

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Main photo credit: Thinkstock. Cat photo: My furkid Roger.

40 comments

Stardust Noel
Stardust Noel2 years ago

I don't use the new words, most of them are stupid.

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JL A.
JL A2 years ago

Thanks for the entertaining illumination

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Miriam O.

THANK YOU for your time and for posting!

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Rosemary H.
Rosemary H2 years ago

The "Simples" meerkats don't just do car insurance but all kinds... "Compare the market" or Compare the meerkats".

They are so pervasive and so cute that if I can't watch a David Attenborough programme with meerkats without thinking they are about to start selling insurance... :-)

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted,thank you

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Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard2 years ago

thank you

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Robert O.
Robert O2 years ago

Thanks.

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Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Thanks for posting :-)

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Kamia T.
Kamia T2 years ago

One of the things that makes American English so interesting, and also so difficult to learn and then keep up with, is the constant addition of new words and the morphing of words into new meanings. Thanks for the update. Some of them I'd never heard of LOL.

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Darren Woolsey
Darren W2 years ago

I agree with Elaine to a large extent.

Whilst I don't use it myself, of course text-speak has become a language all of its own on account of iTechnology.

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