The Oxford English Dictionary keeps adding new words into the official English lexicon every year. While many of these new words may appear common, they do stand out as they reflect the new cultural phenomena. In this decade, we have gotten used to plenty of modern words without even realizing it. A lot of these words have become part of our everyday language, but you'd be surprised to find a mention of them in a dictionary.
As the current decade draws to a close, it's the perfect time to look back at 10 new words that have made their way into the dictionary in the last 10 years.
Oxford dictionary definition: "‘Thank God it’s Friday!’; expressing relief, celebration, excitement, etc., that the working week is over and the weekend has begun."
Origin: Acronym for the expression ‘Thank God It’s Friday!’. The origin of the phrase is still disputable. However, the ‘Encyclopedia of Slang’ introduced it way back in 1941, and that is generally considered the first use of “TGIF” in print.
In the mid-1960s, TGIF became a common expression. People used it for expressing relief that the weekday was ending and for showing their anticipation for the weekend. The word found popularity when an American restaurant chain ‘T.G.I. Friday’s’ was launched in 1965.
The term, however, became mainstream only after the release of the movie ‘Thank God It's Friday’ in 1978. The movie showed different sets of people hitting the new disco in town on Friday evening. While the film wasn't a huge success, it's basic theme resonated with the young crowd, and the word TGIF slowly found itself becoming commonplace, especially with the youth.
Oxford dictionary definition: “Powdered green tea leaves, dissolved in hot water to make tea or used as a flavoring.”
Introduced: June of 2016
Origin: The word 'matcha' originated from Japanese: “ma” means rubbed or ground, and “cha” translates to tea.
Matcha is mainly grown in two Japanese regions: Uji in Kyoto, and Nishio in the Aichi province. Traditional matcha preparation was found to be meditative by nature by Chinese Zen Buddhist monks. The Zen Buddhists discovered that drinking matcha green tea before their afternoon meditations gave them better clarity and a sense of wellness.
Initially, matcha was only consumed by the nobility in the 12th century and was popular in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. However, around the 17th or 18th century, farmers began introducing fertilizing techniques for matcha and it slowly started finding its way among the general populace.
Oxford dictionary definition: “A person who uploads, produces, or appears in videos on the video-sharing website YouTube.”
Introduced: December of 2016
Origin: Coined from the word ‘YouTube’ in the early 21st century.
The first-ever YouTube video uploaded was by co-founder Jawed Karim titled “Me at the zoo” in 2005. Back then, it was a simple platform to upload and share videos. Today, it is one of the most powerful search engines in the world. As its popularity grew, video content creators, called YouTubers, began realizing the platform’s potential to generate views by uploading different videos on a variety of themes - movie reviews, songs, cooking shows, news reports, funny skits, social commentary, and even short films, to name a few.
This also gave them the chance of earning a decent income as Google, which owns YouTube, pays the video uploader a sum based on the number of views per video. Today, YouTubers have sprouted in each corner of the world, creating varied video content catering to their specific audiences.
Take a look at the first-ever YouTube video uploaded below.
Oxford dictionary definition: “Information of military or political value.”
Introduced: December 2010
Origin: The word is believed to be used for the first time in the 1960s. It was coined as an abbreviation for the word ‘intelligence’.
In the broader sense, intel or intelligence is the process of collecting information about foreign countries and their agents, which is required by a government for its foreign policy and national security. The information includes comprehensive and secret knowledge about the enemy, along with details about their political decision-making, military intentions, and opponents. Every nation has its network of intel agencies that work in secret to gather information for the government.
Oxford dictionary definition: “Used to draw attention to a joke or amusing statement, or to express amusement.”
Introduced: March of 2011
Origin: It is believed that the word was initially coined in the early-to-mid-80's. The first documented mention of LOL comes from a May 1989, newsletter called FidoNews, which listed it as a commonly used Web acronym.
LOL has, of course, become an extremely popular word today, and is used commonly on the Internet and various texting platforms. In the age of Facebook and WhatsApp, LOL is generally used as a remark to express amusement at something, usually followed by a laughing emoji. However, it can also be a sarcastic jibe nowadays, used to convey disagreement over a topic. The word has gone through several variations over the years: lololol, lolz, and even lulz being some of its famous variants.
Oxford dictionary definition: "A high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise."
Introduced: September of 2018
Origin: The word is a combination of ‘cross-training’ and ‘fit’. It was coined in the early 21st century.
CrossFit is a lifestyle that focuses on safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition. It is one of the latest trends in the fitness industry and is being promoted as a conditioning and training program for achieving improved health, weight loss, and better performance. Former gymnast, Greg Glassman, is said to be the one who coined the term CrossFit. Glassman introduced a program that would combine gymnastics, Olympic powerlifting, and calisthenics in an intense and focused routine. This is how CrossFit was introduced to the world, and it has today gained immense popularity.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Oxford dictionary definition: “A young foreign person, typically a woman, who helps with housework or childcare in exchange for food, a room, and some pocket money.”
Introduced: September 2013
Origin: Au pair is a French word that translates to ‘on equal terms’ or 'on par'. It implies that an au pair’s status as part of the family, and not just a paid worker. In the late 19th century, au pair was described as an arrangement between two parties paid for by the sharing of mutual services. The word was first used as a noun in the 1960s.
The au pair is considered a full member of the family during their stay. Their primary job is to help the family with childcare while they are provided with free lodging along with remuneration. An au pair, however, is neither a housekeeper nor a nanny.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Oxford dictionary definition: “The three-toed sloth.” Not to be confused with AI, an acronym for 'artificial intelligence'.
Introduced: September 2012
Origin: The word originated in the 17th century from the Brazilian Portuguese word 'aí', which literally means 'there'. It was used in the now obsolete Old Tupi language.
Also known as Bradypus tridactylus or pale-throated sloth, the ai is native to the forests of southern Venezuela, the Guianas, and northern Brazil. They have long arched claws and have three fingers on both the hands and the feet, with the middle claw being the largest. Their arms are long and weak, and they move by dragging themselves by their hands on the trees. These mammals live high in the canopy of tropical rainforests and sleep for 19 hours a day. Ai also eat, mate and reproduce on the canopy.
Oxford dictionary definition: “(chiefly in science fiction) a means of transport resembling a skateboard that travels above the surface of the ground, ridden in a standing position.”
Introduced: September of 2015
Origin: The first use of the term ‘hoverboard’ dates back to a 1967 science fiction novel 'The Hole in the Zero' by M. K. Joseph. From the book: “He chattered on about girls and riverside dancehalls and hoverboard skating, and seemed to look with pleasure on Paradine, who was smugly daydreaming about the report which would be lying on Number One’s desk after lunch.”
The word ‘hover’ is modified from the 15th-century word ‘hoveren’ which translates to ‘linger’. 'Board’ is even older and comes from the Old English word ‘bord’, a word of Germanic roots, meaning ledge or shelf. The word ‘hoverboard’ became famous when it was used in the 1989 film 'Back to the Future'. Since then, this term became mainstream, and the fancy device has been employed in several futuristic-themed science-fiction films and books.
Also called 'a self-balancing scooter' and 'segway', the hoverboard in its present state was designed and developed by a Chinese-American inventor named Shane Chen in 2013. While the current device doesn’t exactly resemble the hoverboard that was shown in 'Back to the Future', it does come close and is definitely flying off the shelves. Currently, it is more of a self-balancing scooter – a personal motorized vehicle comprising of a platform for the feet mounted on two wheels and can be moved the way the rider manage their weight.
Oxford dictionary definition: “The practice of watching several episodes of a TV program on one occasion, usually by means of DVDs or digital streaming.”
Introduced: June 2018
Origin: The term 'binge-watching' is derived from the words ‘binge-eating’ and ‘binge-drinking’, which had become popular in the U.S in the 1950s. These were followed by ‘binge-reading’ in the 1990s.
The origin of the word ‘binge’ is vague. The English Dialect Dictionary of the end of the 19th century noted that to binge means “to soak a wooden vessel such as a cask or a tub to swell the wood and render it watertight”. Subsequently, a man who “soaked” himself in an alcoholic drink was said to be ‘on a binge’. In its modern interpretation, to binge means to go on a spree or to immerse oneself in an activity or a situation.
The word ‘binge-watching’ was first recorded in the U.S. way back in 2003. However, it only found popularity from 2012 onward. Today, binge-watching would imply indulging in watching many episodes of a TV show in one sitting.
Language is constantly evolving and some new words that may appear odd or amusing to us at present may well become a part of the vernacular in the years to come. Hence, it would be interesting to observe which new words and phrases will be added in the dictionary in the coming decade.