In their latest — and biggest-ever — quarterly update, Oxford Dictionaries Online added words that remind us who we are and what we care about in 2014.
Take xlnt (adj.), a symbol of our desire to skip tedious letters in today’s fast-paced conversation. Consider digital footprint (n.), a phrase that encapsulates our increasing worries about privacy and being monitored online. Or ponder man crush (n.), which explains modern man’s natural, platonic reaction to Benedict Cumberbatch.
All told, Oxford added about 1,000 new entries this quarter. It’s important to note that this deluge is flowing into the branch of Oxford that reflects modern usage — the words we’re using now and how we use them. The bar for entry into the historical Oxford English Dictionary is much higher, requiring words to prove they have greater staying power.
Here’s a selection of the new admissions:
al desko (adv. & adj.): while working at one’s desk in an office (with reference to the consumption of food or meals).
chile con queso (n.): (in Tex-Mex cookery) a thick sauce of melted cheese seasoned with chilli peppers, typically served warm as a dip for tortilla chips.
cool beans (exclam.): used to express approval or delight.
crony capitalism (n.): (derogatory) an economic system characterized by close, mutually advantageous relationships between business leaders and government officials.
digital footprint (n.): the information about a particular person that exists on the Internet as a result of their online activity.
duck face (n.): (informal) an exaggerated pouting expression in which the lips are thrust outwards, typically made by a person posing for a photograph.
five-second rule (n.): (humorous) a notional rule stating that food which has been dropped on the ground will still be uncontaminated with bacteria and therefore safe to eat if it is retrieved within five seconds.
hawt (adj.): (chiefly US) informal spelling of “hot.”
IDC (abbrev.): (informal) I don’t care.
jel (adj.): (informal, chiefly Brit.) jealous.
lolcat (n.): (on the Internet) a photograph of a cat accompanied by a humorous caption written typically in a misspelled and grammatically incorrect version of English.
MAMIL (n.): (Brit. informal) acronym: middle-aged man in Lycra. A middle-aged man who is a very keen road cyclist, typically one who rides an expensive bike and wears the type of clothing associated with professional cyclists.
man crush (n.): (informal) an intense and typically non-sexual liking or admiration felt by one man for another; a man who is the object of another’s intense liking or admiration.
misery index (n.): an informal measure of the state of an economy generated by adding together its rate of inflation and its rate of unemployment.
Obamacare (n.): (in the U.S.) an informal term for a federal law intended to improve access to health insurance for U.S. citizens. The official name of the law is the Affordable Care Act or (in full) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
permadeath, n.: (in video games) a situation in which a character cannot reappear after having been killed.
Secret Santa (n.): an arrangement by which a group of friends or colleagues exchange Christmas presents anonymously, with each member of the group being assigned another member for whom to provide a small gift, typically costing no more than a set amount.
shabby chic (n.): a style of interior decoration that uses furniture and soft furnishings that are or appear to be pleasingly old and slightly worn.
simples (exclam.): (Brit. informal) used to convey that something is very straightforward.
tech wreck (n.): (informal) a collapse in the price of shares in high-tech industries.
the ant’s pants (n.): (Austral. informal) an outstandingly good person or thing.
WTAF (abbrev.): (vulgar slang) what the actual f-ck.
xlnt (adj.): (informal) excellent.