Twerking is pretty old-fashioned and Bostonians could be “massholes”

The Oxford English Dictionary has added 500 new words

Press ReleaseToday the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announces its latest update, ushering in nearly 500 new words and over 900 newly revised and updated words. There are also over 2400 new senses of existing words added. This confirms the OED’s place as one of the largest and longest-running language research projects in the world. 

The new words include masshole, hot mess, twerk, fo’shizzle, sext, stanky, twitterati, meh.

I particularly like

massholeA term of contempt for a native or inhabitant of the state of Massachusetts

Miley Cyrus may have thought she was being original and innovative with her “twerks” but it turns out that she was being pretty old-fashioned with a move which dates back to 1820 and came into dance in the 1990s.

The use of twerk to describe a type of dancing which emphasizes the performer’s posterior has its roots in the early 1990s in the New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene, but the word itself seems to originate from more than 170 years before that.

It was in use in English as a noun by 1820 (originally spelled ‘twirk’) referring to ‘a twisting or jerking movement; a twitch’. Its use as a verb emerged a couple of decades later, in 1848, and the ‘twerk’ spelling had come about by 1901. The precise origin of the word is uncertain, but it may be a blend of twist or twitch and jerk, with influence from the noun quirk and from work (v.) in reference to the dance.

Keepers of language such as the OED always do – and must – lag usage. But it is wrong to think of the OED as any kind of arbiter of what is “right” or “wrong”. Usage always overrides any judgement of “correctness”. The keepers of language only record what was considered acceptable usage at a certain point in time. In fact I am inclined to the view that there is no such thing as bad spelling or bad grammar. There is only bad or good usage. The only real criterion is whether the meaning intended to be conveyed was conveyed.

Tags: , ,

%d bloggers like this: