The Newest New Words


(Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, 1872, with John Tenniel’s illustration)

To be master or mistress of meanings, you need to be up to date with good sources.

You might remember that the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) will deliver a new word to your inbox every day, but it’s not always a new word – those come out every quarter. Last quarter gave us humblebrag (self-explanatory, I think), hot mess (i.e. spectacularly disordered) and listicle (an online article which is just a numbered or bullet pointed list, thank you BuzzFeed).

If you want your new words sooner, you need a slightly newer university to help. Last week the Cambridge dictionary blog – which offers weekly updates around a theme – presented a relationship edition: silver splicer (a person who marries later in life), SBNR (dating website acronym spiritual but not religious) and brotherzone (sibling-like friendship which will not spill over into a romantic relationship).

What if you want your new words even more often? The German site Wortwarte (“word watch”) tracks the usage of new words at least every other day, if not more often, plus a word of the day on Twitter. You might not want to use them though – continuing the Cambridge theme, last week offered us pickupisiert (adj., ‘picked up’ as in attracted a man), which sounds ghastly in every possible way. Maybe it’s better to wait three months after all, if you want new words worth using and remembering…

Translator, editor, writer, reader

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