In a moment of cultural serendipity (or, depending on how you look at it, calamity), Oxford Dictionaries Online just announced that "twerk" made the list of new entries to its quarterly dictionary update. While the release of the update list reliably incites horror at the debasement of the venerable Oxford Dictionary institution, not to mention the English language in general, it is important to realize the difference between Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) — a flexible, web-only collection focused on current English usage — and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a historical record of the core of English, printed and bound on high-quality paper, from which words are never removed.
However, while most people respect the OED for enshrining the respectable, time-tested, stable fundament of English, they enjoy it for preserving the odd, rare, and obsolete, exactly the category of entry for which "twerk" is likely headed. Here are 16 words from the latest ODO update, matched up with 16 words from the OED that had short, obscure lives.
1. TWERK, BRANSLE
ODO - twerk, v.: "dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.
OED - bransle, n.: "a kind of dance"
1662 (Samuel Pepys' Diary) "They danced the Bransle."
2. OMNISHAMBLES, ACANG
ODO - omnishambles, n.: "a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations."
OED - acang, v.: "to act foolishly, lose self-control"
1200 (St. Katherine manuscript) "Hu nu, dame, dotestu? Cwen, acangestu nu mid alle þes oðre?"
3. SELFIE, DAP
ODO - selfie, n.: "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website."
OED - dap, n.: "likeness, image"
1746 (Exmoor Scolding) "Tha hast tha very Daps o' thy old muxy Ont Sybyl."
4. FOOD BABY, GUTLING
ODO - food baby, n.: "a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food and supposedly resembling that of a woman in the early stages of pregnancy."
OED - gutling, n.: "a great eater, a glutton"
1632 (Robert Sanderson sermon) "The Poets..made themselues bitterly merry with descanting vpon..the fatte paunches of these lasie gutlings."
5. A/W, M.B.
ODO - A/W, abbrev.: "autumn/winter (denoting or relating to fashion designed for the autumn and winter seasons of a particular year)."
OED - M.B., n.: Initialism for "Mark of the Beast," used in "M.B. waistcoat"
1874 (W.E. Gladstone) "[The undivided clerical waistcoat] was deemed so distinctly Popish, that it acquired the nickname of 'The Mark of the Beast'; and..among the tailors..was familiarly known as 'the M.B. waistcoat'."
6. FAUXHAWK, BULLHEAD
ODO - fauxhawk, n.: "a hairstyle in which a section of hair running from the front to the back of the head stands erect, intended to resemble a Mohican haircut (in which the sides of the head are shaved)."
OED - bullhead, n.: "a mass of curled or frizzled hair worn over the forehead"
1672 (Andrew Marvell) "To trick up the good old Bishop in a yellow Coif and a Bulls-head, that he may..appear in Fashion."
7. GRATS, SDEIGN
ODO - grats, pl. n.: "congratulations"
OED - sdeign, v.: "Shortening of disdain"
1590 (Faerie Queene) "They sdeigned such lasciuious disport."
8. HACKERSPACE, ANYTHINGARIAN
ODO - hackerspace, n.: "a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge."
OED - anythingarian, n.: "One who professes no creed in particular; an indifferentist."
1704 (Thomas Brown) "Such bifarious anythingarians, that always make their interest the standard of their religion."
9. GEEK CHIC, SHEEPSY-WOLVESY
ODO - geek chic, n.: "the dress, appearance, and culture associated with computing and technology enthusiasts, regarded as stylish or fashionable."
OED - sheepsy-wolvesy, adj.: "wolves in sheep's clothing"
1657 (Jeffry Watts) "Linsie woolsie, sheepsie woolvsie prophets."
10. CAKE POP, FLIP-FLAP
ODO - cake pop, n.: "a small round piece of cake coated with icing or chocolate and fixed on the end of a stick so as to resemble a lollipop."
OED - flip-flap, n.: "a kind of tea cake."
1876 (The Golden Butterfly) "As we sat over her dough-nuts and flipflaps."
11. SQUEE, 'CATSO
ODO - squee, exclam. & v. & n.: "(used to express) great delight or excitement."
OED - 'catso, int.: an interjection akin to "what! Gods me!" from Italian cazzo the "membrum virile."
1708 (Motteux's translation of Rabelais) "Cat-so! let us..drink."
12. SRSLY, 'CAVY
ODO - srsly, adv.: "short for 'seriously'."
OED - 'cavy, n. & adj.: short for "cavalier."
1650 (Mutatus Polemo) "The Cavies being at that time ready to turn anything, except Roundhead, for some money to be chirpingly drunk."
13. BABYMOON, CHOP-LOGE
ODO - babymoon, n.: "a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born; a period of time following the birth of a baby during which the new parents can focus on establishing a bond with their child."
OED - chop-loge, n.: short for chop-logic, one who chops logic, "a contentious, sophistical arguer"
1542 (Udall's translation of Erasmus) "He..with lacke of vitailles brought those chop-logues or greate pratlers as lowe as dogge to the bow."
14. BALAYAGE, FRIZILATION
ODO - balayage, n.: "a technique for highlighting hair in which the dye is painted on in such a way as to create a graduated, natural-looking effect."
OED - frizilation, n.: the act of frizzling the hair
1567 "Her chief and comon exercise..was, to force a frizilacion of her haire."
15. BUZZWORTHY, COLEWORTS
ODO - buzzworthy, adj.: "likely to arouse the interest and attention of the public, either by media coverage or word of mouth."
OED - coleworts, n.: old news. Literally, a cabbage-like plant. From the proverb for "old news," "coleworts twice sodden."
1644 (Chirologia) "It being better sometimes to use a licentious and unwarrantable motion, then alwayes to obtrude the same Coleworts."
16. UNLIKE, UNLIKE
ODO - unlike, v.: "withdraw one's liking or approval of (a web page or posting on a social media website that one has previously liked)."
OED - unlike, v.: "to give up liking; to cease to like"
1761 (Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph) "My heart is not in a disposition to love... I cannot compel it to like, and unlike, and like anew at pleasure."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- The amazing resurrection of Mitt Romney
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- What would a U.S.-China war look like?
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
- 10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2014
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
Subscribe to the Week