Thursday, 5 April 2007

Not particularly welcome

The Oxford English Dictionary releases every three months some notes on the quarter’s updates to the online edition, consisting of the revisions to entries in one section of the alphabet and the new entries from across the alphabet.

The revised range published on 15 March covers the words from Prakrit to prim. It contains 2,693 entries (8,756 subsenses, including compounds, etc.). This brings the total number of main entries in the OED to 259,487 (containing 684,542 subsenses).

Of course, the OED’s aim is simply to record words which have come into use and it cannot exclude those which need not or should never have come into being, so the list of 288 new words and senses which were added last quarter makes rather depressing reading. Many of them originated in former colonial territories whose peoples are clearly misusing the lexical licence they acquired when we gave them their freedom. Few of the following can really be said to have enriched our language, because they are superfluous or they describe something we have no real need to know about, or are just silly; I think I could have lived quite happily without adding any of these to my vocabulary:

asswipe, n.
1. A foolish or contemptible person.
2. Toilet paper.

tighty-whities, n.
Men's snug-fitting white cotton underpants; briefs

bimbette, n
slang (derogatory)
A young woman or adolescent girl, esp. one regarded as sexually attractive but thought to lack intelligence or distinctive personality; a bimbo.

irritainment, n
Broadcast material which is irritating yet still entertaining; irritating entertainment

leccy, n.
Brit. colloq.

Electricity, esp as commercially supplied

, n
A toasted sandwich, typically sealed around the edges

toodles, int
U.S. colloq. (freq. humorous).

(=toodle-oo, int.)

pretzelled, pretzeled, adj
N. Amer. (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
Twisted, contorted, tangled


Jim Miles said...

I think I agree for all of those bar one. And it's the only one that doesn't fall into the "bloody obvious what it means" category: jaffle. I think that if I lived in a culture where toasted sandwiches were very popular then I would like more words to describe them.

It's okay! I'm not about to make a comparison to the oft-quoted and entirely false "fact" about how many words Eskimos have for snow.

Tony said...

Well, thank you, Jim. But you wouldn't want to live in Australia with or without jaffles, would you?