Oh, we’ll have words

Oh, we’ll have words

January 20, 2022 By Matthew Crowley Resources

Maybe you thought awesomesauce was some fabricated interjection, coined just for this endearingly goofy Discover Card commercial. Silly you. Awesomesauce led the herd of recently added words to the Oxford Dictionaries' online version.

Quick! Someone bring smelling salts. A pack of prescriptivists just fainted. Geez. They barely revived from the inclusion of  “lolz” and “ridic” into the official Scrabble dictionary. Now this. Wait till they get a load of  the addition of “mkay” a fusion of “mmmm” and “OK” into Oxford Dictionaries’ online fold.

News reports say Oxford University Press deems these terms most significant and likely to stand the test of time. But these coinages won’t make the Oxford English Dictionary unless the Press’ analytics see continued use.

“New words, senses, and phrases are added to when we have gathered enough independent evidence from a wide range of sources to be sure that they have widespread currency in the English language,” Oxford Dictionaries' Angus Stevenson said in a statement cited by CNBC.

This research draws on several sources, Stevenson added, including  the Oxford English Corpus, a language monitoring program representing all types of English, from novels and journals to newspapers, magazines, blogs, emails, and social media.

Geopolitics and economics inspired some of the new inclusions, Grexit and Brexit, refer to the possible exits of Greece and Britain from the European Union.

Those words suggest contraction, but manspreading, another inclusion, now means expansion. It’s when a dude on public transit sits and spreads his legs wide, encroaching on nearby seats. Yo, fella, close ’em up. We’re all cramped here.

Several niche businesses entered the dictionary: cupcakery, a place where tempting little cakes call like sugary sirens, cidery, where cider gets made, and cat café, an establishment where people can buy coffee and commune with felines.

Cue the mew and cry.

“(Cat café) is probably self-explanatory enough that it doesn’t need its own spot in the dictionary,” Sidbhán O’Grady of hissed. “One also wonders why any branch of Oxford would give credence to such a silly venue at all.”

The Huffington Post’s Michael Strachan liked hangry, a combination of hungry and angry, but spat venom at pwned, a video gamer expression of domination (Dude, I totally pwned you at Donkey Kong!) and Redditor, a term for a registered user of Reddit, a social networking, and news website.

“These are not words in the Oxford Dictionaries sense of the term,” he wrote. “They are Internet words. By adding them, you are legitimizing a subsect of people who don’t even want to be legitimized by Oxford Dictionaries anyway. What's next, ‘yasssssss’?” Strachan asked.

Leonard Nimoy died just months before the inclusion of holodeck, a chamber in which users can experience a holographic or computer-simulated physical environment. But Richard Dean Anderson is alive and well to see MacGuyver,  “making or repairing (an object) in an improvised or inventive way” get in. (Somewhere Rube Goldberg is sad to be marginalized). 

If apoplectic readers have had all they can take, of these words or this blog, they can unwind and call for beer o’clock or wine o’clock, new coinages standing in for the venerable cocktail hour.


This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website, September 4, 2015.

Header photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash. 

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