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OMG, LOL Added To Dictionary

March 26, 2011

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the premier dictionary of the English language and published by Oxford University Press, has added a new list of words and expressions to its already 600,000-long list.

In its latest online update, OED has listed such expressions as OMG! (oh my god), LOL (laughing out loud), and FYI (for your information) as valid English entries in its authoritative reference book.

The words and expressions will be added to the online edition of the dictionary by the end of this month. The fine people at OED call these expression “initialisms,” because they are made up of initials of the expression.

Initialisms are handy when using social media websites like twitter — which limit’s the number of characters used in a post — said Graeme Diamond, principal editor of the OED.

But he thinks there is more to these words than boring word limit practicality. The expressions are most commonly associated with younger people, informality and are often used to show irony.

But some of the expressions may not be as new as many would believe. The OED found that the term OMG was first used in a letter in 1917, and LOL was first seen in 1960. LOL, however, meant something quite different back then: Little Old Lady.

“Things people think are new words normally have a longer history,” Diamond said.

“Who knows how many people from 1917 onwards” were using the term OMG, he said, noting that for decades it was impossible to know. “With the advent of the mass media we have access to much more personal information.”

Other new entries include IMHO (in my humble opinion), BFF (best friends forever), the symbol <3 (meaning “to love”), and WAG — an abbreviation for “wives and girlfriends,” used to refer to the partners of soccer players.

“WAG burst out of nowhere,” said Diamond.

The expression was first introduced by a British newspaper article in 2002. It didn’t receive much attention for four years, when the 2006 World Cup came around. With huge media attention surrounding attention on England’s football team, “WAG” became a commonly used expression.

OED prides itself as “the last word on words for over a century,” and, with four updates a year, it definitely keeps up with what’s hip with the English language.

The latest update includes about 900 new words, expressions and meanings. Among the long list includes a new meaning for the word “heart” as a verb, using the symbol <3, meaning “to love.”

The entry for OMG will read, “OMG int. (and n.) and adj.: ‘Oh my God’ (or sometimes ‘gosh’, ‘goodness’, etc.).”

Diamond explained what it takes for a new word to qualify for the OED: “You have to show that the word has been in usage for a decent length of time and, most importantly, that the word is used and understood by a wide audience.”

With approximately 600,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the longest official dictionary; as stated by The Guinness Book of World Records.

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