/Oxford English Dictionary Steps into the World of Slang

Oxford English Dictionary Steps into the World of Slang

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Sheryl Jacob

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In September, The Oxford English Dictionary added the acronym “YOLO,” along with other colloquialisms to their updated list of words. The acronym “YOLO” stands for You Only Live Once, and was popularized in rapper Drake’s song “The Motto” in 2011. This brings up the question; should slang be included in a formal complication of English words?

YOLO was initially added to the Oxford Dictionaries in 2014, and is defined as follows: “You only live once (expressing the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future, and often used as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behavior.” The Oxford Dictionary is, by nature, a current list of words that are modern and have updated definitions. The words in the Oxford Dictionary include conversational language, and orders its definitions by the most common usage to its least.

On the other hand, the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as more of a history of words. The OED publishes archaic words, and lists various definitions for words by their relevance in history’s timeline rather than their most common definitions and applications. The Oxford English Dictionary is useful in studying the origin and development of a word and its definition, and as a result, an update of the OED that includes pop cultural slang is an understandable addition.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary’s website, the site is updated every three months with its new entries, offering many features to help users find the words they require; the Oxford English Dictionary as is usually updated sometime during March, June, September and December. The Senior Assistant Editor of the OED, Johnathan Dent touches upon the addition of the word YOLO, among other words such as moobs (“Unusually prominent breasts on a man (likened to those of a woman), typically as a result of excess pectoral fat,”) and splendiferous (“Full of or abounding in splendour; resplendent.”) in his notes about the new September additions.
The addition of whimsical words such as fuhgeddaboudit and YOLO highlight the Oxford English Dictionary as a truly living list of words, proving the research behind the words is rigorous and allows us to be comfortable utilizing the OED for the most updated and current list of common vernacular. The question is, will Urban Dictionary (the unofficial online slang dictionary) soon be obsolete due to the frequent introduction of pop culture in the Oxford English Dictionary? Also, when will Fetch, from the popular movie “Mean Girls” be added and accepted as a word?