"Frankenfood" and "Locavore" Among New Words Added to the Oxford Dictionary Online

Categories: Get Lit, News

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In the future, we'll all be eating apples shaped like tiny puffer fish. We also will have apparently bred with zombies.
The Oxford Dictionaries Online adds, in its own words, "dozens of new words" to its online dictionary every three months.

And when it's not busy adding words that reflect the ever-evolving English language and our social climate, it's monitoring the Internet, movies, books and TV for new words to add.

The most recent additions to the ODO took place in May, but -- two days into August -- people are just now noticing those new words, as well as words that were added within the last year.

Among them are several food-related terms and even dishes that, frankly, we're surprised weren't already in the ODO. Panko? Just added, as were affogato, doughnut hole, bibimbap and red velvet cake.

As with all new quarterly additions to the ODO, the words and terms it chooses for inclusion are mirrors of what's currently important to English-speaking people in societies from here to Great Britain as well as what topics are hot-button issues.

Reflecting the modern obsession with genetically modified food, the noun "frankenfood" was added to the ODO. And another modern obsession, eating local, is reflected in the addition of the word "locavore."

And while some may bemoan the addition of words such as "whatevs" or "obvs" to the ODO alongside more useful, less patently lazy terms ("upcycle" is a not-so-terrible example), the truth is this: The English language has never stopped and will never stop evolving.

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What the ODO wants to say and never does: "If you don't like the words we're adding each quarter, stop using the damn things."
Obviously faddish terms will fall out of use (who among us will still be talking about "guyliner" or "jeggins" in another 20 years, except as ways to mock decades-old fashion?), while the truly useful terms -- no matter how stupid they sound to our ears -- will likely be used by our great-great-grandchildren when they telepathically communicate business memoranda to each other regarding the "truthiness" of a recent proposal (or however people are going to communicate in the future).

As for words like frankenfood and locavore? Time will tell if they're truly faddish, too, or if they'll become standard terms to describe average ways of eating in the future ("He's a pescatarian, but she's just a locavore..." or perhaps "Wasn't it hilarious how our grandparents were scared of frankenfood? OMG whatevs.")

And remember: Until very recently, ubiquitous words such as built, burst, dug, froze, grew, hung and stung were considered poor grammar. "The well-spoken person," wrote John McWhorter in a recent New York Times article, "swimmed yesterday and builded a house last year."

"In Google's handy Ngram viewer, using data from millions of books over several centuries, one can see that builded only started falling out of disuse around 1920. Not for any reason; no one discovered that builded was somehow elementally deficient. Fashion changed."


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