Oxford Dictionaries will help you explain Miley Cyrus to your mom

TL;DR, emoji, selfie, bitcoin, and derp make the cut in the quarterly update.


Kris Holt

Internet Culture

Published Aug 28, 2013   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 7:59 am CDT

If the dictionary had updated its definitions a few days earlier, you might have found it easier to explain Miley Cyrus’s VMAs performance to your parents.

Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) added definitions for several Internet culture terms, like twerk, Bitcoin, emoji, and selfie in its quarterly update Wednesday.

Don’t freak out. It’s just the online dictionary. It catalogs what we tweet, not what we write in an honors English thesis. 

“Research by the Oxford Dictionaries team shows that these terms have been absorbed by popular culture, hence their inclusion in the latest ODO update,” Oxford Dictionary Press said in a TL;DR blog post. The company also publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, but these words will only appear on the Web (for now).

Some of the definitions mentioned in the post are are concerned with fashion and food, though most come from the Internet. Here are a few of the new ODO definitions:

  • derp: speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action”;
  • TL;DR: ‘too long didn’t read’: used as a dismissive response to a lengthy online post, or to introduce a summary of a lengthy post;
  • FOMO: fear of missing out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website;
  • twerk: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance;
  • unlike: withdraw one’s liking or approval of (a web page or posting on a social media website that one has previously liked).

The Oxford English Dictionary typically demands words or new definitions are in widespread use for a decade before they’re added to the print dictionary. That policy doesn’t really work when new terms can take off within minutes online. It bent the rules a little to add “tweet,” “crowdsourcing,” and “e-reader” in June, however.

H/T The Next Web | Photo via practicalowl/Flickr

Share this article
*First Published: Aug 28, 2013, 12:16 pm CDT