New Words For 2010

Observatory, Reading & Writing

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?

12 comments on “New Words For 2010”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    I like ‘defriend’ better than ‘unfriend’. It seems to have more of a verbal implication than ‘unfriend’ which has a more nominative or adjectival sound. Wooee! The computer, on the other hand, doesn’t like either of them.

  2. Shuku says:

    Y’know…I actually DO seem to recall a book of Lost Words. I had it for a short time, loaned to me as reading material when I fell dreadfully ill in uni. I’ll have to dig up the title for you again if I manage to find it. Research project ahoy!

  3. Irina Carruthers says:

    Try Lost For Words: Auastralia’s Lost Languagge in Worlds and Stories by Hugh Lunn for some Aussie treats.

  4. Irina Carruthers says:

    oops can’t type! sorry, try Australia’s Lost Language…

  5. John6 says:

    What about “Would’ve”? I bet eventually it will come out, but the sooner the better.

  6. Katherine n tommy says:

    Whatsemedoodaar! Shud soo be a word!! Definition: when can’t explain what ur trying to say!! It has to b in there!! Pmsl!

  7. Simon says:

    Why do the OED insist on adding these tongue-in-cheek portmanteaus to its otherwise reputable collection? The constituent words are already there; to formally acknowledge their elision is to both misunderstand and devalue the humour in the usage. It’s the sort of idiocy you’d expect from Collins!

  8. Stephe says:

    I used to use “a case of the simples” back in College – – – the early ’70s. It meant that you were so tired that you had stopped making sense. “I’ve got the simples.” Was a common usages among my friends. Had nothing to do with drugs or drink – – usually just being out until it was “really early.”

  9. There is a book called Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionery of Obscure Words

  10. Nancy Ragno says:

    I recommend: THE WORD MUSEUM by Jeffrey Kacirk; THE ENDANGERED ENGLISH DICTIONARY by David Grambs; ENDANGERED WORDS by Simon Hertnon, and READING THE OED: ONE MAN, ONE YEAR, 21,730 PAGES by Ammon Shea. Follow me on Twitter @nancyragno

  11. ronnel pelenio says:

    can you send me more words which are new and cool if you may…. i love learning new words everyday….

  12. jnaneshwara says:

    Joking, Smiling and laughing together can we call = Joksmla
    Instead of Jogging staying inside home due to cold weather or bad weather = staging or stahousing

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