OED September 2022 release notes: New Words
This quarterly update for the OED is top banana, no doubt about it. As usual, new entries have been created as part of our wide-ranging revision process, and we’ll talk about some interesting additions in the damn, damned, etc. set of words below. There are also new entries resulting from our Monitor Lexicography programme, where we review databases, corpora, social media, and even failed searches on oed.com, to analyse the language of the moment and ensure we’re providing our readers with what they need. And we have a football-themed batch too, to help everyone get to grips with the necessary soccer-speak ahead of the World Cup later this year.
Put this together and it should mean there’s enough here to interest all the galdem, and all the mandem too; words for women collectively and men collectively, originally from the Caribbean and dating back to the early 20th century, but more recently used in Britain to refer to a person’s female or male friends or close associates. This later use is chiefly associated with Multicultural London English, but has apparently become more widespread having been popularized by lyrics in grime music.
Grime? Damfino, I’m more of a Motown guy, but I can tell you that revision of the damn words has generated some interesting new material (including damfino itself, representing a colloquial pronunciation of ‘damned if I know’). We can now see that the state of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t has existed since 1838, though people undoubtedly felt this way for a long time before that, just without this phrase to apply to their predicament. Admiral David Farragut, the commander of a Unionist fleet during the American Civil War, decided to do rather than don’t when he said damn the torpedoes and instructed his men to hold course despite heavy fire at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. His decision paid off, and the words he is reputed to have used live on to express disregard for the danger or consequences of an action, or to refer to a bold or reckless action or attitude. But this alphabetical range also shows us that other notable figures have not been remembered so well: damnatio memoriae, from the Latin for ‘condemnation of memory’, refers to Roman history, and is a term for a form of punishment whereby a deceased public figure identified as an enemy of the state was erased from public record, typically by obliterating inscriptions, destroying statues or portraits, or revoking measures introduced by that person. Is there a parallel with the modern term cancel culture, which was added to OED in 2021? I suspect that the emperors Domitian and Commodus, who were condemned by damnatio memoriae after being assassinated, might point out some differences.
Continuing this move from ancient Rome to the modern day, a number of new entries reflect the world around us now. Energy poverty is unfortunately a particularly apt addition for many; it’s defined as ‘the condition of being unable to afford or obtain sufficient energy resources to fulfil the basic needs of a household or population’, with a first quotation dating from 1959. The term medical indigency goes back further, to 1932; this is chiefly seen in the US, and means ‘the condition or state of a person who lacks the resources (in later use esp. health insurance) to receive or afford medical attention or treatment’. The adjective jabbed is for obvious reasons a necessary addition to OED, though not as familiar in its current main sense to our North American readers as to others; the sense meaning ‘vaccinated’, often with a modifying word (‘fully jabbed’, ‘partially jabbed’), has been traced as far back as 1960 in Belfast. More familiar in the US are the side hustle – ‘a part-time job or occupation undertaken in addition to one’s main job in order to earn extra income’, originally in African-American usage and with a first quotation from the Chicago Defender in 1950 – and the influencer, ‘a well-known or prominent person who uses the internet or social media to promote or generate interest in products, often for payment’, first found in 2007.
A metaphorical Cruyff turn now to move away from words about modern society and towards words about football. There’s a World Cup kicking off in November, and while the OED already covered a large number of football terms, from catenaccio to nutmeg to water carrier, this select batch of fifteen additions fills a few gaps in our formation.
There are terms for specific manoeuvres, such as the Cruyff turn mentioned above, and the rabona. The latter is ‘an unorthodox way of kicking a ball in which the kicking leg crosses behind the standing leg before making contact’ and has a particularly interesting story behind it: it comes from the Argentinian Spanish phrase ‘hacerse la rabona’, to play truant, which became associated with the manoeuvre due to a caption accompanying a cartoon in a 1948 Argentinian football magazine. This referred to the player Ricardo Infante, who had recently performed this move in a match, as ‘el infante que se hizo la rabona’, the child who skips school, and the term stuck. (We wonder if the fact that it’s often spelled with a capital initial, as Rabona, is due to a misapprehension that it derives from a player’s surname, like Panenka, another new entry.)
Formations and playing styles are other areas that have generated various new words over the years, and here we’re adding some that have been brought into English due to the influence of European teams and managers. Total football is most closely associated with the Dutch team Ajax and the Netherlands national team in the early 1970s; it describes an attacking style in which each outfield player is able to able to play in other positions on the pitch as required, and our English term follows from the Dutch ‘totaalvoetbal’. Gegenpressing comes to us from German and describes ‘a style of play in which a team, upon losing possession, puts immediate and intensive pressure on the opposition, even deep in the opposition’s half, in an attempt to regain the ball at the earliest opportunity, prevent the opposing team from capitalizing on possession, and force mistakes in dangerous positions’; it was first used in English in 2012, as far as we can tell. Tiki-taka comes from Spanish, and is the term used for the possession-based, short-pass-focused style associated with FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team in the late 2000s and early 2010s. And for the more defensive-minded fans of both football and loan translations, to park the bus appeared in English match reports in 2004 when the Portuguese manager José Mourinho claimed that this is what Spurs had done against his Chelsea team, playing in such a negative way that they might as well have put their team coach in the goalmouth. (Although our entry shows that Mourinho’s words were originally reported as “They brought the bus and left the bus in front of the goal as we say in my country.” Not quite as catchy.)
Others in this batch for the beautiful game include false nine, row Z, trequartista, zonal marking, and one that the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson might not have expected to catch on so widely when he first said it to reporters in 2003: squeaky bum time.
Finally, as Oxford and the northern hemisphere head into Autumn, something to help us look forward to those dark, crisp evenings, with leaves crunching underfoot and the scent of distant bonfires in the air. Pumpkin spice describes the mixture of ground spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, and more – used as an ingredient in pumpkin pie filling, and now as a flavouring for various food and drink items. Perhaps its most notable current non-pie use is in the pumpkin spice latte, made famous by a particular Seattle-based coffee behemoth, though our research suggests that the drink originated – under this name at least – in an Indiana coffee and tea establishment.
There’s a lot more in this update, but we’ll draw to a close now with a few teasers. What might you find in a cabinet noir? Are you an example of nominative determinism? Who has panda eyes other than pandas? We hope you enjoy finding out.
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