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Oxford English Dictionary adds the words 'tweet,' 'e-book'

The OED bent the rules slightly by adding 'tweet' in under 10 years – a nod to the word's rapid and widespread rise into everyday usage.

By Staff Writer / June 17, 2013

Investor Warren Buffett sends out his first tweet using a tablet device.

Nati Harnik/AP

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The Oxford English Dictionary is one of the most respected dictionaries in the world. It is no empty boast when the book's publisher calls it the “definitive record of the English language.”

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So what has made the cut for the edition of the online version of the dictionary (which is updated four times a year)? According to Oxford University, the words “tweet” and “e-reader,” among others, are now official parts of our lexicon.

Other words that made the cut this time around include “crowdsourcing,” the verb form of “stream” (as in “streaming a video on your laptop”), and the expression “to have a cow,” which the Oxford English Dictionary chief editor John Simpson notes in his post “is often associated with the character Bart from the animated series 'The Simpsons,' but it is much older than the television show.” The OED says the phrase originated in 1959.

According to Simpson, the inclusion of the word “tweet” in the OED meant bending the dictionary’s rules. Usually, he wrote, “a new word needs to be current for ten years before consideration for inclusion.”

“But it seems to be catching on,” Simpson noted in what seems a bit of an understatement.

Other words or phrases that have made the cut in the past include “OMG” and “LOL,” both of which were added to the dictionary in 2011. The online version of the dictionary has new entries added to it by editors every three months.

The OED was first printed in 1884 and a second edition of the dictionary was released in 1989. A third edition has been in the works for some time, but Nigel Portwood, chief executive of the Oxford University Press, told the Telegraph in 2010 that he doesn’t believe it will be printed in physical form since the online version of the OED is now so popular.

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