The OED’s Buzzwords for 2011

What do “unfriend,” “LOL,” “sexting,” “<3,” and “retweet” have in common?

They’re all words that have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary in the past couple of years.

As we’ve said before on this blog, language is constantly evolving.  The OED, as the definitive record of all the words in the English language, is always on the lookout for new words that reflect how the language is changing and how people speak.

The OED recently released its shortlist for 2011′s Word of the Year, and it included some interesting new tech buzzwords.  Have you heard of them?

VocabNetwork’s OED Shortlist 2011 studylist highlights some of these buzzwords, with snippets and pics to make them memorable!

The OED’s choice for Word of the Year is ‘squeezed middle,’ and with good reason.  The term refers to the section of society that’s most affected by economic problems like inflation and cuts in public spending.  Similar to the 99% in the Occupy movement.



Need to raise some money?  Instead of getting large amounts from a few people, try crowdfunding (raising small amounts of money from large groups of people).




A new environmental enemy has been receiving attention lately — fracking (extraction of gas in rock by introducing liquids at high pressure), which can introduce methane gas and drilling fluid into underground drinking water.



Social networks have moved activism online to create clicktivism (promotion of a cause through social media and other online methods), putting power back in the hands of individuals.




Have a boring task to do?  Gamification (application of concepts from games to other areas of activity) takes menial tasks and makes them fun and interactive with incentives and rewards.



Take our poll. Let’s see what our readers think!


Is there a word that you think should have been included in the OED’s shortlist?

Language Matters: LOLing at the OED

Language is undoubtedly a living, evolving thing.  And this is good, because otherwise we’d be stuck with a language from the Middle Ages to describe 21st century ideas.  But sometimes language can change in unexpected and potentially undesirable ways.

‘LOL’ added to the OED (BBC, 8 April 2011)

Raise your hand if you’ve used “LOL,” either online or in real life.

Wow!  That’s a lot of you.

I expected as much.

Still, some language purists have raised eyebrows at the recent decision to include “LOL” and “OMG” in the definitive book of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The terms, as you might know, mean “laughing out loud” and “oh my god,” respectively.

Their ubiquity and the fact that they usually don’t need defining are what made them qualified to join the official ranks of our language.

Most people know them, many use them or have used them at some point, and even the most ardent “lol-haters” recognize their position in the language as a way of expressing amusement or a tongue-in-cheek appreciation of a joke in text or an online environment.

However, the inclusion of these terms in the official English language has led some to question whether the widespread use of such slang terms is harmful, especially for young people who are still developing their communication abilities.

Not so, say others.  In fact, it may actually be helpful.  Kids who use slang are engaging in code-switching, a linguistic task that involves using elements of two languages at the same time — something that bilingual people do.

This is not the first time that the language of the Internet has been given official sanction by the OED — the term “google” used as a verb was added in 2006.

What do you think about this issue?  Should “LOL” and “OMG” be counted as “real” words in English?  What about other Internet slang, like “BRB” or “ROFL”?  Why or why not?