Oxford Dictionaries, creators of the well-known Oxford English Dictionary and the online OxfordDictionaries.com, announced one thousand new words for their online edition last week, its largest update ever.
Many of the new terms come from the nightmarish hellscape of cultural devastation that is texting/online lingo. Abbreviations like “xlent” (short for “excellent”, and also “disappointment to my parents”), “YOLO” (“You Only Live Once,” because Carpe Diem is way too hard), “jel” (for “jealous”), “cray” (for “crazy”), “adorbs” for “adorable” and “SMH” (“shake my head,” which is all I can do anytime I see the word “jel”, “cray” or “adorbs”).
There are also words that have been lengthened or misspelled for “informality,” like “hawt” for “hot, attractive” (I wish I could say I was kidding), “mahoosive” for “massive” (which for some reason I assume was first coined in Minnesota), and “amazeballs,” which stands both for “amazing” and “I cannot possibly be taken seriously.”
Those trapped in online journalism will likewise recognize “clickbait”, articles (in Buzzfeed) that tend to rely (in Buzzfeed) not on substance but on large and outrageous headlines (in Buzzfeed); and “listicle”, a so-called “article” that consists of simply a list of items. (The term “listicle” has the added benefit of sounding like a testicular disorder, which for serious journalism it turns out it is.)
Not all these new words demand a rending of one’s garments, though. For all their jargon, video game terms like “respawn”—when a game allows your character to get another chance after dying; or “permadeath”—when a game doesn’t give you that option—have their uses. One might say in our church today that some leaders have respawned under Pope Francis, while others may face permadeath if they don’t change their tune.
Likewise, “to mansplain,” which is when a man offers a condescending explanation to a woman, certainly resonates, and may offer an efficient shorthand for some struggles within the church. So, too MAMIL, “Middle Aged Man in Lycra,” though MAPIR, “Middle Aged Priest in Recliner,” may be more fitting in some cases.
But even so, the fact that the revered institution of the Oxford Dictionary would come to accept a term like “side boob” in its hallowed pages is a bit like taking your grandmother for her birthday to a strip club. If this is where we’re headed we might as well just quit now and return to talking in grunts.