New Words For 2010
As is usual at this time of year, the Oxford English Dictionary is pointing out the words it has added in the last 12 months. “It has been another rich year,” says Susie Dent, the lexicographic specialist who led the comprehensive scanning of more than 2 billion words. “Last year, we found that ‘credit crunch’ was the most familiar new word, and the effect of the recession has stayed with us through 2009.”
Staycation – a money-saving holiday at home – is an elision of words that caught on immediately. ‘Zombie bankers’ are only one of a rich vocabulary from the fallout of the City’s near-meltdown: paywalls, freemiums (free service providers with paid-for premium extras) and bossnapping, to oppose sackings or pay cuts, are also popular.
The overwhelming influence of the internet also continued, with ‘Unfriend’ coming from the practice of dropping a contact from a Facebook site. Although voted the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, the UK uses the alternative ‘Defriend’.
‘Tweetup’ has prospered via the practice of organising gatherings through Twitter, using the rhyme with “meet” in the traditional way of creators of new words. ‘Simples’, meanwhile, comes from an older-fashioned source. “It appeared on the ‘compare the meerkat’ TV adverts for insurance and quickly become a catchphrase said to mean something very easy to achieve,” says Dent. “It really seems to have captured the public’s imagination in 2009.”
‘Jeggings’ comes from the traditional word-marrying school of new terms – mixing jeans and leggings to describe new clothing style. ‘Snollygosters’, meaning “shrewd, unprincipled people”, is an old word revived: first recorded in 1855, it fell into obscurity until the first stirrings of election fever in autumn 2009.
Can anyone recommend a good book of lost words?