Do You Feel Me: September’s Updates in the OED

OEDThe Oxford English Dictionary is undergoing its third major revision in over 100 years (the first volumes were published between 1884 and 1928) to include modern usage of older terms and new additions to reflect the English language today. Additions appear every three months. In the online edition of this classic authority on the English language (which we have access to through the CSI Library Databases) you can see the updates as they happen, and click through earlier versions of the term.

So many of these updates are refreshing; for instance, the term “gender,” which first appears in usage in 1390 and first appeared in the OED in 1889, now includes scores of sub-terms, including gender role, genderqueer, and gender-bending, among others. Taking the next logical step forward, the OED has added “cisgender” in September of 2015. Other newly added terms include: concelebrated, telly, and the modern (but timeless) phrase, “do you feel me?”

I couldn’t help but notice how many of the September updates included militaristic or battle terms. For instance: waterboard; anti-unionism; student uprising; hostage; Chinese water torture; concealed carry; dozens of union terms; and phrases like, “united we stand, together we fall.” Perhaps this is the ordinary number of struggle-oriented additions, but it seems to me a sign of the times.  (Students: you can write papers about the usage of terms as they evolve over time–but even if that doesn’t appeal, it’s a blast to while away a Saturday night digging into new iterations of traditional terms. Am I right?)

In different, but related news, Oxford Dictionaries (which catalogs new words, while the OED collects historical terms) added some extremely timely words, like “Grexit,” “manspreading,” and “hangry.” Could the Oxford Dictionaries have been influenced by the MTA subway public service announcements? ManSpreadPerhaps. How many of these new words will stand the test of time and make the OED? Only time will tell, but rest assured that “sexting” has already made the cut.

-Anne Hays