My high school English teacher surely has her knickers in a twist this week. The latest update of the OED Online includes LOL, OMG and other common abbreviations “<3″ed by texting tweens and teens. Chat and Internet slang like LOL and OMG are de rigueur for Twitter and Facebook, IM and SMS, but do they really belong in the dictionary?
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is adding many “initialisms” to the authoritative reference book’s latest online update. The dons who update the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) did some etymological research and found that these terms actually have pre-Internet roots. The first quotation of OMG, was traced back to a personal letter from 1917 and FYI originated in 1941. The original LOL was used as an abbreviation for “little old lady” and dates back to 1960.
The OED editors explain that “initialisms are quicker to type than the full forms, and (in the case of text messages, or Twitter, for example) they help to say more in media where there is a limit to a number of characters one may use in a single message.”
Mashable summarizes with a quote from the OED Blog:
“The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”
Watch what the OED editors have to say about the March 2011 update here:
Other examples of new OED entries include:
- muffin top – ”a protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers.”
- wag – “wives and girlfriends.” It was first used in 2002 to describe the female partners of members of the England soccer team. Now it denotes the glamorous and extravagant female partners of male celebrities.
- meep (think Road Runner cartoon character) – a short high-pitched sound
- heart or <3 (used as a verb) – a casual equivalent of “to love” that is represented with a symbol, as seen on millions of souvenirs proclaiming “I (heart) New York.”