You know what's amazeballs? Binge-watching and hate-watching episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Even though it makes me SMH, and the douchebaggery is intense, what can I say? YOLO!
Think this paragraph makes me editorially dubious and generally ridiculous? Well, it does. But it's also totally legitimized by the Oxford Dictionary, which just added "amazeballs," "binge-watch," "hate-watch," "FML," SMH," "douchebaggery" and "YOLO" to the illustrious ranks of its online dictionary.
Oxford is not alone. Merriam-Webster, too, has ruffled feathers with risque or just-plain strange new entries over the years, causing lots of kinda adorable nerd outrage.
But before digging in to the most insane word controversies of recent years, let's learn how words are decided upon in the first place. Because linguistics is way cool, are we right?
Dictionary Editing: Most Amazing Job Ever?
Dictionary editors are way serious, you guys. At Merriam-Webster, editors spend up to two hours every day poring through published material to find either brand-new words, or new usages or variant spellings of existing words. These words are marked up, along with their context, and stored in a computer, as well as cataloged on sheets of paper (how quaint!). This searchable database of 15.7 million examples of words (!) are archived in the cool-sounding "corpus" and used to determine which new entries should enter the sanctioned lexicon each year. Oxford follows a similar process for scouring out new words, relying on various published materials.
Additionally, both allow for user-submitted words. Naturally, this has led to some awesome suggestions, including, on Merriam-Webster, "bougie" (as in, an upper-crust snob), "ginormous" (way big) and "woot" (more commonly found used with its twin, in "woot woot").
But while rigorous, these processes have not been without controversy.
SRSLY, That's an Official Word Now?
In the last few years, several new words have caused befuddlement or outright ire among word puritans and those against the LOL-ification of this once great nation. Before its recent bout of civilization-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket entries, Oxford added the following words to its online dictionary:
Merriam-Webster has also sanctioned "selfie," while also throwing in:
But while people have acted appalled at these and other inclusions, dictionary editors have been quick to point out that they warrant being added because they're commonly used and/or because the people themselves have suggested them. In other words, if "whatevs," "ridonculous" or "sup" become official Scrabble words, we'll only have ourselves to blame.
Now go take a selfie while you twerk, then text it using emojis. Ginormous lolz! Woot woot.