Willa Wonka and the Oxford English Dictionary

 

We often wax euphoric about the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the greatest reference works of all time and surely the most authoritative resource on the history of words in the English language.    And it’s fun, too.
For decades the University Library has provided the Washington and Lee community with access to the OED, most recently via the online database, an ongoing project of revision and updating — as it has to be.

This constant research results in new historical information on “old” words, as well as recently-coined terms, being added to the dictionary.  Several times a year the OED releases lists of new words and new meanings, always an occasion for fascination and mirth.   The September 2016 update, with over 500 new words and senses, documents for future scholars the ever-blossoming English language of the early 21st century, with examples such as these:

  • biatch
  • clickbait
  • Merica
  • YOLO
  • [a few we cannot mention here]
  • Oompa Loompa

The last term in this list takes note of the contributions of Roald Dahl, born 100 years ago this year.   For additional fascination and mirth, we recommend the wonderful OED essay on Dahl and the English language, along with this month’s new words.

A good way to keep up with the OED‘s continuing revelations is to follow them on Twitter.     For lengthier treatments, the University Library also has ten or so books about the OED (including one on J. R. R. Tolkien’s involvement).   And a new book is on the way from Oxford University Press!

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