Selfie and tweep among new dictionary entries

Monday 19 May 2014 22.38
The publisher says new words are becoming mainstream more quickly than ever before
The publisher says new words are becoming mainstream more quickly than ever before

"Selfie," "tweep" and "turducken" were among more than 150 new words and definitions added to the 2014 updated Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the publishing company has said.

The additions to the US dictionary reflect the growing influence of technology and social networking, the company said. 

"So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods," Peter Sokolowski, an editor for Merriam-Webster said in a statement.

"Tweep, selfie,and hashtag refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals. Words like crowdfunding, gamification, and big data show that the Internet has changed business in profound ways."

One new entry is "steampunk," defined as "science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology."

And the word catfish takes on an added definition, referring to a person who sets up a false social networking profile for deceptive purposes. 

New culinary terms include pho, "a soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles," and turducken, "a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey."

The Collins English Dictionary has also taken to Twitter to find new words for the next edition of the lexicon, and is asking users to choose which words should make the final edition.

The shortlist of words includes fracktivist, which refers to someone who protests against fracking, and felfie - a term used to describe a farmer who takes a selfie.

The 12th edition of the dictionary will be the first to contain a word that has been voted for by Twitter users.

Until midnight on 28 May, Twitter users can vote for the new word that will go straight into the next edition of the dictionary, which is released in October.

The dictionary publisher says that the rise of social media and the hashtag has seen new words and ideas, which it scouts for every year, become mainstream much quicker than in the past.

Andrew Freeman, associate publisher at Collins, said: "Twitter offers us an immediate snapshot of how much a word is used. The tried and tested approach to compiling dictionaries has to adapt to embrace the ways in which language is developing through use on social media, and this is a fun way to get Twitter users involved in defining the English language."

Collins has been publishing the dictionary since 1819 and is the largest single-volume dictionary in print, with the words it contains sourced from the Collins Corpus, which contains more than 4.5 billion words, as well as the open source site collinsdictionary.com, where users can submit words for consideration.

This new process, which has its own website where Twitter users can vote, looks to take advantage of the freedom of Twitter when it comes to the written word.

Lucy Mangan, a blogger for collinsdictionary.com and a contributor to the Collins English Dictionary, said: "Twitter is the perfect place to find out what people are really saying and how they're saying it.

"It's a space in which you're freer than almost anywhere else to combine old words, resurrect others or invent totally new ones whenever the need arises. #brilliant."

According to language experts, the list, which also contains the word adorkable, referring to someone who is dorky in an adorable way, is a sign of the way language is changing in the 21st century.

Ian Brookes, lexicographer and consultant editor to the Collins English Dictionary, said: "Language has always had to develop in response to changes in society and technology. In the 20th century the development of the motor car, air travel, television, and the personal computer changed the things that people did and so brought many new words into the language.

"In the 21st century, the growth of social media has had a comparable effect."

Twitter users can vote for their choice by visiting twictionary.collinsdictionary.com