Sunday, January 5, 2014

Srsly, Oxford Dictionary? I'm not going to squee over this year's added words

It’s that time of year again. Time for me to put down my copy of “Anna Karenina” and stare into the abyss that is the new list of words added to the Oxford Dictionary Online, an institution that is clearly doing its best to ruin my children’s generation by adding ridic* words to the dictionary. (*Ridic — short for ridiculous. It was added last year. No, seriously.)

Now if I sound hoity-toity, it’s intentional. I understand that new words that make their way into our culture SHOULD be added to the dictionary, but sometimes the additions are just a sad commentary on the culture in which we live.

Like “selfie.” Not only did it make it on the 2013 list of new words, it was named the Word of the Year.

What is a selfie? It’s a picture you take of yourself, typically with a smartphone, and upload to a social media website (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

In an article in The New Yorker, Katherine Martin, the head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford, was quoted as saying, “The concept of a Word of the Year is inherently subjective: We analyze frequency and historical evidence, but our real goal is to identify an emerging word that embodies the zeitgeist of the year, and that is the driving force behind the choice.”

So the “emerging word” and our culture’s “driving force” is … ourselves. I don’t think the “Me” generation of the ’80s can even hold a candle to our current cultural narcissism.

Here are a few other additions for this year’s Oxford Dictionary Online (and my editorializing comments. You’re welcome).

• Srsly: Short for seriously. Because those extra vowels take too long to add, what with all the selfies we’re taking.

• Digital detox: A period of time during which a person refrains from all electronic devices in order to actually speak with others sitting nearby. Much-needed addition, in my opinion.

• Flexitarian: A person who is primarily a vegetarian, but occasionally eats meat or fish. First it was vegetarian, then vegan, then pescatarian and now flexitarian? I have no words.

• Tray bake: A type of cake or food that is baked in a square or rectangular container and cut into individual pieces for serving. In my day, we called that … cake.

• Apols: (informal) apologies. Srsly?

• Babymoon: A relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born. When Craig and I were expecting our firstborn 18 years ago, I think we went out to the Olive Garden the night before I went into labor and called it good. I feel robbed.

• Derp: Informal exclamation used as a substitute for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid. So which word do we use to describe how stupid the word “derp” is?

• Food baby: A protruding stomach caused by eating too much food. As in “No, I’m not seven months pregnant. That’s just my food baby from Christmas dinner.”

• Squee: An informal exclamation used to express great delight or excitement. You mean, squeal? Yeah, there’s already a word for that. Derp!

I know I sound like an old fuddy-duddy who is about to yell at the neighbor kids to get off my lawn, but how many kids are taking a break from their selfies long enough to play on my lawn? Srsly, I just think we need to draw the line without apols. Amiright*?

*My prediction for 2014 Word of the Year.

Eileen Burmeister is a Winchester-based freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister or you can email her at

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