Twerk, FLOTUS Among New Additions to Oxford English Dictionary

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Miley Cyrus 'twerking' at the MTV Video Music Awards, August 25, 2013.Credit: AP
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The Oxford English Dictionary has added twerk, carnap, FLOTUS and scores of other new entries, including many introduced from Asia and from online slang, to its latest edition.

The word twerk - a dance popularized by music stars and internet memes - actually dates back about 200 years as a combination of twist and jerk first spelled "twirk," the OED said.

"The use of twerk to describe a type of dancing which emphasizes the performer's posterior has its roots in the early 1990s in the New Orleans 'bounce' music scene, but the word itself seems to originate from more than 170 years before that," it said.

Joining twerk in the updated online OED is the acronym FLOTUS, or First Lady of the United States, a term that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, felt obliged to explain to London schoolgirls last week when she mentioned her FLOTUS Twitter handle.

The Philippine word carnap, meaning to "kidnap," or steal, a car, originated in the mid-20th century in the United States but is no longer used there.

Another word from the Philippines is presidentiable, "a person who is a likely or confirmed candidate for president."

"Throughout the years, Filipino English speakers have been adapting the vocabulary of this once foreign tongue, using it to express their own identity and way of life," said OED editor Danica Salazar.

Many additions refer to "specific elements of Philippine culture, such as greetings and terms of address," Salazar said.

"The boundless optimism of Filipinos and their unshakeable belief that things will work out in their favour in the end is reflected in the phrase bahala na."

Several other new entries are from South Asia and South-east Asia, where several hundred million people use English as a first or second language.

"The term batchmate - 'a member of the same graduation class as another' - is used in both Philippine and South Asian English," said Katherine Connor Martin, the OED's head of US dictionaries.

Among the latest words popularized via the internet are crowdfunding, Internaut, webisode and photobomb.

Some words and phrases are so well-used that their inclusion in the list of new entries is perhaps surprising, such as dartboard, tan line, young gun, South Korean, North Korean, Special Olympics, and self-immolate.

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