The vuvuzela, the horn instrument which provided the soundtrack to this summer’s football extravaganza in South Africa, is one new entry in the Oxford Dictionary of English, which is based on how language is really used.
The battle to deal with climate change has given us carbon capture and storage – the process of trapping and storing carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels – and geo-engineering – manipulation of environmental processes in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.
The financial problems of recent times have introduced toxic debt to the language – debt which has a high risk of default – and quantitative easing – the introduction of new money into the national supply by a central bank.
The ever-developing world of cyberspace produces a constant supply of words and phrases.
The dictionary offers social media – websites and applications used for social networking; microblogging – the posting of short entries on a blog; and dictionary attack – an attempt to gain illicit access to a computer system by using a very large set of words to generate potential passwords.
Some terms seem well known – for example, staycation – a holiday spent in one’s home country; or national treasure – someone or something regarded as emblematic of a nation’s cultural heritage.
Others, will have many people scratching their heads – for example, cheeseball – lacking taste, style or originality; and hikikomori – the abnormal avoidance of social contact, typically by adolescent males in Japan.
In all there are more than 2,000 new items in the third edition of the dictionary, which was originally published in 1998.
The Oxford Dictionary of English is published on Thursday, price £39.99.