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The Oxford English Dictionary has included new terms such as 'Wokery', 'safe word', and 'forever chemical'.
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The Oxford English Dictionary has included new terms such as ‘Wokery’, ‘safe word’, and ‘forever chemical’.

The Oxford English Dictionary has recently updated its entries to include words such as “Wokery”, “safe word”, “forever chemical”, and “swear box”.

The Oxford English Dictionary is revised every three months to incorporate new vocabulary, meanings, and updates to existing entries, in order to accurately reflect shifts in language usage and incorporate modern terminology related to current events and trends. The latest update for December 2023, announced on Thursday, includes additions in the areas of technology, harmful substances, politics, literature, and sexuality.

The terms “Wokery” and “wokeism” were added, which are derogatory words used to describe progressive or left-wing beliefs and actions that oppose social injustice or discrimination. These terms are often seen as rigid, self-righteous, harmful, or insincere. The update also included a definition of “wokery” as a place that serves dishes made in a wok, such as a restaurant, food counter, or kitchen.

Another term related to politics, “chumocracy”, is also mentioned. It is defined as a culture that is characterized or controlled by influential networks of close friends, and has previously been used to describe the state of British politics.

Another term that was added is “safe word,” which refers to a word or phrase that is chosen by individuals engaging in sexual activity, particularly BDSM role play, as a signal to stop or take a break.

Several terms related to technology and the internet were included such as “screen-share,” “generative artificial intelligence,” and “talkboard,” which refers to an online platform for communication or discussion.

The terms “Forever chemical” and “PFAS” were included. These terms refer to artificial substances, such as those found in cookware for their ability to resist sticking, that are unable to decompose in the natural world.

This update also includes literary terms, such as “Gradgrindian” which is an adjective referring to the qualities of Thomas Gradgrind, a businessman in Charles Dickens’s book Hard Times. It means being harsh, unfeeling, and only focused on factual information; excessively pragmatic.

Another term used in literature is “Chekhov’s gun”, which is a principle established by Russian writer Anton Chekhov. It suggests that any unnecessary elements should not be included in a story. According to Chekhov, a gun mentioned in a play should only be fired later on. The OED mentions that this principle has received criticism and some have pointed out that even Chekhov himself did not always adhere to it in his own writings.

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In 2018, the Oxford English Dictionary included the term “mansplaining” in its entries. This refers to the action of a man explaining something in a patronizing or unnecessary manner. In the latest update, the dictionary team also included the suffixes “-splain” and “-splaining”, with examples such as “straightsplaining”, “mumsplaining”, and “Biblesplain”.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) originated as a collaborative effort in the late 1800s. It involved a request for the public to contribute words and their definitions. After 70 years, in 1928, the initial version was finished, containing 414,825 entries. Among the 3,000 individuals who participated were Henry Spencer Ashbee, who possessed the largest assortment of pornography and erotica globally, and Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl Marx, who submitted terms pertaining to genitals, pornography, and bondage.

The most recent changes to the text also introduced new terms, such as “taliswoman” which refers to a talisman specifically associated with a woman. Another addition is “Stephanian”, an adjective used to describe anything related to individuals named Stephen, Stephens, or Stephanus. Additionally, “hypnic jerk” was included, defined as the involuntary or convulsive movement of the body or a body part that happens when a person is falling asleep.

Source: theguardian.com