Indian food essentials – chana and chana dal – are among the many new entries in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ (OED) unveiled today. Chickpeas (chana) and the split chickpea lentils (chana dal) join the vast list of more than 600 other words and phrases that the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary has deemed popular enough to be included in its quarterly update. The clutch of words debuting in the world’s definitive guide to the evolving English language covers everything from lifestyle and current affairs to the educational world. The other prominent new entries include a batch of tennis-related words like “forced error” as well as slang such as “bagel” – which refers to a score in a set of six games to love, due to the similarity of the numeral zero to the shape of a bagel.
Robert McNicol, Librarian at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), who was invited to offer his expertise on the tennis-themed words for their inclusion in the dictionary, said the words were part of tennis’ tradition. “Tennis is renowned for its many long-held traditions, and part of that is the unique language used to describe particular playing shots and racket techniques,” said McNicol. In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries had announced ‘post- truth’ as its “Word of the Year”. Since then, the huge increase in usage of the word has given the lexicographers enough evidence to add it to the latest edition of ‘OED’.
A new sense of woke, which was shortlisted for ‘Word of the Year’, has also been added, meaning “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice”. Its use by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in particular the phrase “stay woke”, is thought to have introduced the word to a broader audience, especially on social media. Since the introduction of the term ‘academy’ to the English school system in 2000, this type of independently publicly run school has featured heavily in UK news.
The latest ‘OED’ update also includes a new related sense of the verb academise, to convert a school into such an academy.
“Often displaying a playful side to the English language, colloquialisms and slang words have always had their place in the ‘OED’,” the OED noted. Other remarkable entries in the latest update are: footless (as in, footless drunk, an alternative to the more familiar ‘legless’), swimmer (sperm), and son of a bachelor (a euphemistic alternative to ‘son of a bitch’).
‘To have a canary’ or ‘to lose one’s composure’ and a new usage of ‘thing’ – often used in questions conveying surprise or incredulity, such as ‘how can that be a thing?’ have also found their way into the OED’s new list of words. In the scientific word news, ‘Zyzzyva’ – a set of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found on or near palm trees – has become the latest entry in the dictionary.