It's been a good week for … neologisms

It's been a good week for … neologisms

The Oxford online dictionary has published its latest clutch of new words. Yolo, an acronym for "you only live once", is among them, as is "adorbs" - meaning cute or adorable, and "binge-watch" (to avidly watch something).

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The website is a catalogue of definitions of English words as they are used today. The new words won't yet appear in the print version of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a more historical account of words, but they could do in the future if they continue to be frequently used.

Other new inclusions are "hench" (to describe a man who is strong and fit); "hot mess" (a person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered); "side-eye" (a sidelong glance expressing disapproval or contempt); "hate-watch" (watching a programme for the sake of the enjoyment derived from mocking or criticising it); "listicle" (an online article presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list), and "bank of mum and dad" (need I explain?).

The list - given in the online dictionary's quarterly update - provides insight into current language usage trends. The current linguistic evolution continues with words such as "side-boob" (the side part of a woman's breast); "neckbeard" (male facial hair growing on the neck); "humblebrag" (an ostensibly modest statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud); and "amazeballs" (meaning impressive or very enjoyable).

You don't have to be a linguistics expert to grasp that most of these words are generated by younger people and disseminated through digital media.

It's when supposedly sensible adults start using this type of vocabulary that you know new words are going mainstream.

I realised I was on a slippery slope when I heard myself suggesting to my 18-year-old son, who was negotiating a late night out at a party, that he should just go to the "pre-bev" instead.

Give me a side-eye and call me a hot mess, but I predict it's not long before pre-bev (drinks consumed in a domestic setting prior to embarking on a night on the town) officially enters the lexicon.

It's been a bad week for … punctuation abusers

Language pedants were partying on Friday to celebrate International Apostrophe Day.

As the most high-profile of badly used punctuation marks, the poor old apostrophe deserves a special day all of its own.

It gives it a sense of belonging.