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The Year in Neologism, pt. 2

Jan 2015

News ,

The Year in Neologisms

Last year we wrote a piece reviewing the year’s neologisms. It went down well so we’re back with a part two.

If you missed the first article, you can read the first instalment of The Year in Neologisms here.

Oxford English Dictionary

Oxford English Dictionary

Blu-Tack (n) and (v)

“To stick (a lightweight object) to a surface using Blu-Tack”


“A proprietary name for: a reusable, putty-like, adhesive substance, typically pale blue in colour, used to stick lightweight objects (esp. of paper or card) to a wall or other surface”

James Murray, the Oxford English Dictionary’s very first editor, made an early decision not to include any proper nouns. Proper nouns, thought Murray, should be addressed by the encyclopaedia.

While the policy was quickly rescinded a few years alter, only a few proprietary names have ever graced the O.E.D.’s pages. Only when a brand has achieved such success that it morphs into a generic term can it be granted admission into the exclusive club.

Blu-Tack, following in the famed footsteps of Hoover, is the newest in the list of brand names introduced to the dictionary.

Old Etonian (n)

“A former pupil of Eton College”

The introduction of “Old Etonian” speaks volumes about the current state of British politics. Voting percentages and voter migration to fringe parties prove that the population is done with the traditional political model. And what is the political model? The Old Etonian, of course.

Coney Island (n)

“In early use: a hot dog. Now: spec. a type of hot dog topped with chilli con carne (without beans), raw onion and mustard. Also more fully as Coney Island dog, Coney Island hot dog.”

When considering Americanisms, it seems a question of when, not if, they will cross the channel. The Coney Island is no different. The introduction to the dictionary of this particular hot dog shows that Britain’s infatuation with our colonial cousins is still going strong.

Collins Dictionary

Collins Dictionary

Al Desko (adj)

“(facetious) (of a meal, esp lunch) at one’s desk at one’s place of work”

Is this addition a swipe at the modern economy? Is it the result of an overworked and underpaid editor?

Whatever the etymology, Collins Dictionary highlighted one of the modern era’s finest new words: al desko. There’s nothing glamorous about eating a salad perched over your keyboard and the play on alfresco hammers this home beautifully.

Kawaii (adj)

“denoting a Japanese artistic and cultural style that emphasizes the quality of cuteness, using bright colours and characters with a childlike appearance”

Japanese culture has been slowly penetrating British and American media for the past few decades. Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z and Spirited Away led the way and still have dedicated cult followings.

With Japanese culture playfully skirting the border between niche and mainstream, it was only a matter of time until a word evolved which defined it. That word is kawaii.

Twerking (n)

“a provocative dance performed by moving the hips rapidly back and forth while standing with the feet apart and raising and lowering the body in a squatting motion”

A portmanteau of the words ‘twist’ and ‘jerk’, twerking was the dance which launched a thousand Vines. The dance, which originates from West Africa, crashed onto the scene in 2013 and the provocative move just kept going throughout 2014.

A runner-up in Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2013, the cultural phenomenon finally gets the recognition it deserves.

What have been your favourite words of 2014? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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