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OMG! Social networking takes hold... on the English dictionary

A new Chambers Dictionary includes “BFF” and “unfriending” – but not “sexting”. Find out which other words made the cut…

Image: crdotx via Flickr

SOCIAL NETWORKING MUST be big business, because its effects are even showing on the English dictionary.

The new edition of the Chambers Dictionary has been expanded to include terms beloved of web users worldwide. OMG and BFF both get the nod, as do “crowdsourcing” and “paywall” – while “defriending” and “unfriending” are both now accepted by the highest authorities. (However, and despite Ashley Cole’s best efforts, “sexting” did not make the cut.)

The recession – at least to the satisfaction of the Chambers editors. The new edition features financial terms and phrases which would have been unknown five years ago, but are now tossed back and forth by journalists, armchair pundits and taxi drivers across the English-speaking world. “Toxic assets” and “overleveraged” are both new entrants, as are “double-dip” and “quantitative easing”.

There are also other new slang terms which were judged to have gained a sufficient foothold in English. “Meh” got the green light, as well as “skank” as an insulting term for a woman. Men fare better, with “bromance” entering the language as a new marker of male friendship.

Handily for anyone who disagrees with the editors’ choices, the dictionary includes a new compendium of insults. Among them are “humgruffin” (a terrible person), “horse-godmother” (a fat, clumsy woman), and “two-pot screamer” (a person who gets drunk on only a small amount of alcohol).

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Michael Freeman

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