‘Tweet’ gets a new social media meaning in the Oxford English Dictionary

17 Jun 2013

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) – considered to be the definitive guide to the English lexicon – is willing to bend the rules to include the new digital-age meaning of the word ‘tweet’ in its next edition.

“This breaks at least one OED rule,” said John Simpson, chief editor of the OED. “Namely that a new word needs to be current for 10 years before consideration for inclusion.”

However, Simpson and the respected publication have conceded to redefine ‘tweet’ in its social networking sense because, “It seems to be catching on.”

New words from the ever-changing and influential world of technology often emerge in the OED’s updates, which occur four times a year with the next coming in September.

As well as a new meaning for ‘tweet’ on Twitter’s terms, ‘follow’ has been given a new definition to convey its use with regard to social media, while the noun ‘redirect’ has been give a new web-based definition, as well as the verb ‘stream’.

New additions to the OED include ‘geekery’, ‘live blog’, ‘mouseover’, ‘big data’, ‘crowdsourcing’, ‘e-reader’ and ‘flash mob’. New sub-entries derived from the tech world include ‘3D printer’, ‘3D printing’, ‘search engine optimization’ and ‘SEO’.

Pop culture also has an influential role in shaping the OED, which is why we are now seeing the word ‘epic’ being redefined with examples such as, “That’s epic, dude.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic