English is a “living language,” often in spite of our best efforts to harm it irreparably. Technology is perhaps one of the greatest culprits, as the English language is frequently twisted and mangled in an effort to accommodate an innovative concept that only recently sprang into being.
Oxford Dictionaries Online (which is run by the same lexiconic* gurus who handle the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary) updates its lineup throughout the year with new words that have entered the public consciousness. Last year, an impressive number of these new words were inspired directly by websites, online commerce, and social media. In fact, the word “selfie” was actually named Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013.
Here are just some of words that have recently joined the English collective:
A virtual currency that allows transactions to be performed without need for a central bank.
“EBay recently announced that they are considering accepting bitcoin as payment.”
The act of removing a person from a list of friends or contacts on a social networking website. Another word for “unfriend,” which was actually the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2009.
“If my mom doesn’t stop inviting me to play Candy Crush Saga on Facebook, I’m going to defriend her.”
A small icon or image used to express an emotion or idea when communicating electronically. From a Japanese word that basically translates to “picture letter character.”
“Emoji are a handy tool for conveying sarcasm in your text messages.”
A large public gathering where people perform an unusual or seemingly random act and then disperse.
“A flash mob of 80 people broke into an impromptu Lady Gaga dance number at the mall today.”
Abbreviation for “fear of missing out.” A feeling of anxiety or concern that something exciting or interesting is happening elsewhere, often brought about by posts on social media websites.
“Because of my FOMO, I never miss a staff lunch or happy hour.”
A blog that provides a running commentary on an event as it is taking place through short, frequent updates. Can also be hyphenated to make it a verb (“live-blogging”). Incidentally, the word “blog” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003.
“I’d like to welcome all three of our loyal fans to this week’s C-SPAN live blog.”
Abbreviation for “massive open online courses.” An online course that’s designed to accommodate a large (or even unlimited) number of participants.
“If you want to take part in this MOOC, all you have to do is log on to the website and sign up.”
An event triggered by moving a cursor onto an element of a graphical user interface. Frequently used on webpages to bring up an image or hyperlink when the cursor is moved over a specific point.
“When you move the cursor over a link on Google, a mouseover will pop up displaying the URL.”
A portmanteau of “phone” and “tablet.” A smartphone with a screen of intermediate size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer. LG Electronics Inc. filed a U.S. federal trademark registration for the term “phablet” in October 2011.
“A phablet offers a better visual experience than a typical smartphone, but it can be bulky in a small shirt or pants pocket.”
Also spelled “selfy.” A self-portrait typically taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
“An occasional selfie is okay, but posting a new one every day might be a bit too much.”
Short for “seriously.” While this word seems to have begun life as a shorthand abbreviation during the late 18th century, it has developed over the years into a statement of disbelief often uttered by adorable Photoshopped cats.
“I srsly cannot believe this word is actually in the dictionary now.”
*It’s a word. I looked it up.
**This word actually made it into the Oxford English Dictionary as well. Whether this makes you proud or afraid will probably depend on what year you were born.