'Turducken,' 'Vuvuzela,' And More New Dictionary Words

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The latest edition of The New Oxford American Dictionary is out, and it's got more than 2,000 new words and phrases, including "vuvuzela," "microblogging," "staycation" and "turducken" — a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. Guest host Rachel Martin talks to Catherine Soanes, head of online dictionaries for Oxford University Press, about the new additions.


Here's some news that our puzzlemaster and lovers of the lexicon will appreciate: the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English is out, and it's got more than 2,000 new words and phrases. Vuvuzela is in there, which should be no surprise to anyone who watched the World Cup.

Other newcomers include microblogging, staycation and turducken - that is, of course, a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey.

Joining us to talk more about the newest additions to the Oxford Dictionary of English is Catherine Soanes, head of Online Dictionaries for Oxford University Press. She's in her office in Oxford in the United Kingdom. Welcome, Catherine.

Ms. CATHERINE SOANES (Head of Online Dictionaries, Oxford University Press): Hello.

MARTIN: So what would you say is the most unusual word, in your opinion, to be added this year?

Ms. SOANES: Thats a very good question because when you mentioned turducken, I had to smile because thats one of my favorites. Because the word itself seems to encapsulate what the actual thing in real life is.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SOANES: It's - there are words stuffed inside other words. So I really do like that one.

MARTIN: Now, a number of these words: microblogging, tweetup, defriend, these are all words that have come about thanks to the new way we use the Internet, particularly social networking. And it seems like every time we turn around, the online world is generating some kind of new word, and it's hard to keep up. How is this pace, how is this changing the way that you all do your work?

Ms. SOANES: Well, I think computing and the Internet has been really fast-moving area of language development for 10 to 15 years, at least. And the way we track words within that subject area is the same way in which we track words in any subject area.

We actually have a huge database of about two billion words, so we can see words as they come into the language. And if we have enough evidence that a word isnt just being used by one person on one website, it's being used by a community of users across quite a large spectrum, then those words become candidates.

MARTIN: Some of these words: bromance, frenemy, these are words that seem like they could be taken directly from "High School Musical" or a Will Ferrell movie. But really, these are words? Frenemy?

Ms. SOANES: Honestly, we're very conscious of, you know, putting things in that might be deemed ephemeral. But these words have all been very well-researched. There are actually well-used by a lot of people. I mean, bromance, in particular, we've seen that being used as this what used to be called the buddy movie. And it's really it's a very common word. It's not just used by one person in one place, not at all.

MARTIN: Do you find that your job changes how you use words? Do you find these words kind of seeping into your own vocabulary?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SOANES: Yes, I do actually. I mean, I like the phrase: On the naughty step, which sort of came from the television program over here "Super Nanny."

MARTIN: I was going to say: On the naughty step, I haven't heard of that one.

Ms. SOANES: No, I used to be quite fond of that program, so I was pleased to see that that phrase had come into the dictionary this time.

MARTIN: Okay. Well, we will be anxiously awaiting to see what words are included in the next edition of the dictionary.

Catherine Soanes is the head of Online Dictionaries for the Oxford University Press. She joined us from Oxford in the U.K. Catherine, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Ms. SOANES: Thank you, Rachel.

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