The Oxford Dictionary has been around since 1884, and has constantly traced the evolution of the English language since then. We tend to think of language as fixed and well-defined, but it’s actually very dynamic and changing. To reflect that, Oxford is adding new words to the dictionary every year. Chillax and Whatevs are two of our favorites of this year:
- chillax. To calm down and relax; to take it easy, to chill.
- whatevs. Used (typically in response to a question or statement) to indicate that the speaker is disinclined to engage with, or is indifferent to, the matter.
Star Wars fans also get a treat, as several words from the Star Wars universe are now in the dictionary.
- Jedi. In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: a member of an order of heroic, skilled warrior monks who are able to harness the mystical power of the Force.
- Padawan. In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: an apprentice Jedi. Also (often humorously) in extended and allusive use to depict a youthful and inexperienced person.
- lightsabre, n.: In the fictional universe of the Star Wars films: a weapon resembling a sword, but having a destructive beam of light in place of a blade.
But it’s not just references — many of the new words were added to reflect changing times. In 1989, an edition featuring 21,728 pages in 20 volumes was published, but the authors could have hardly predicted the emergence of these new words. How long can you last without your phone?
- nomophobic. Suffering from anxiety about not having access to a mobile phone or mobile phone services.
- promposal. An invitation to be someone’s date to a school prom; esp. one which is elaborately staged, filmed, and made available on social media.
- Manhattanhenge. A phenomenon in which the sun rises or sets in alignment with the streets that run east to west on the street grid of Manhattan, New York City.
- Jafaican. A non-Jamaican person who adopts or identifies with aspects of Jamaican culture, esp. in a way regarded as contrived or inauthentic.
- satoshi. The smallest monetary unit in the Bitcoin digital payment system, equal to one hundred millionth of a bitcoin.
As it often happens, some of the newly-added words were just weird — but fun. Feel free to use them however you see fit, and if someone says it’s not a real word, just send them to the Oxford Dictionary — but be careful and use this power wisely.
- ayete. To understand, comprehend; to recognize, to perceive.
- arlarse. An unpleasant or annoying person; esp. one who is mean-minded, unkind, or unfair.
- ancap. Of or relating to anarcho-capitalists; supporting or advocating anarcho-capitalism.
- cockteasing. Behaviour regarded as provocative, in which a person (typically a woman) tempts men sexually with no intention of satisfying the desire aroused.
You can read the entire list of newly-added words here. Which one is your favorite?
Definitions are tweaked from the Oxford Dictionary.