Entries in Oxford English Dictionary (2)


And the Word(s) of the Year Are…

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc(LONDON) -- The word of the year, chosen by Oxford University Press to capture the ethos of 2011, is actually two: “squeezed middle.”

The word of the year, which is obviously a phrase of the year, is chosen each year by U.S. lexicographers. British wordsmiths choose their own word of the year for the dictionary. But for the first time ever, both the Americans and British came up with the same expression.

The phrase “squeezed middle” is defined by the Oxford University Press as “the section of society regarded as particularly affected by inflation, wage freezes, and cuts in public spending during a time of economic difficulty, consisting principally of those people on low or middle incomes.”

While originally coined in Britain by the head of the Labour Party Ed Miliband, the phrase “squeezed middle” resonated with the American lexicographers as well.

Susie Dent, the spokesperson for the Oxford Dictionaries, said in an interview on the BBC that the term reflects global rather than just regional issues.

“The speed with which ‘squeezed middle’ has taken root, and the likelihood of its endurance while anxieties deepen, made it a good global candidate for Word of the Year,” Dent said.

Other terms on this year’s  short list included headline worthy  terms such as “Arab spring” made popular by the Democratic movement in Arab countries; “99 percent” popularized through the Occupy Wall Street protests; and “bunga bunga,” a term former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi brought to the public’s attention in describing his sex parties.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Oxford English Dictionary Embraces Internet Slang

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(OXFORD, U.K.) -- OMG, the Oxford English Dictionary has announced its latest updates!

The authoritative reference book -- the final word on words -- has announced that it has updated its online edition with 1,900 revisions and adds from across the dictionary. New additions include such digitally-driven abbreviations such as OMG -- Internet shorthand for "Oh my God'" or "Oh my Gosh" -- LOL, "laughing out loud"; IMHO "in my humble opinion"; and BFF, "best friends forever."

One might be tempted to exclaim WTF? (And if you don't know what that stands for, you can look it up: it was included in the 2009 updates.)

"Technology has been one of the biggest drivers of new vocabulary for centuries," Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large for the O.E.D., told ABC News.

Popular culture, explained Sheidlower, is a major driver of new vocabulary. But the dictionary's editors insist they are hardly indiscriminate. Once a word makes it in, it is never removed even if it becomes antiquated -- the purpose of the O.E.D. is to exist as a comprehensive, living history of the language.

"If we really thought a word would vanish, we'd hold off [including it] for a while," said Sheidlower. "Year after year there are tons of new Internet terms -- slang or terms from text messaging -- that we may not use for more than a few months."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio