Home / National News / How Words Like Butt-Dial and Redditor Make It Into the Oxford English Dictionary


(NEW YORK) — Redditor, shareable and butt-dial are among the latest words to join the Oxford English Dictionary, which keeps the definitive record of words that have permeated the English language.

Many of the words included in Thursday’s quarterly update were popularized on the Internet or are terms spawned from experiences with technology. There’s the frustrated gamer who may rage-quit after being stuck too long on a level. Then there is that snackable (short, easy to read) story a friend posted on Facebook.

Clifford Sofield, an assistant editor at Oxford English Dictionary, told ABC News a team of editors is responsible for evaluating new words that may have gained a place in the vernacular to determine if they meet an established set of standards to be added to the dictionary.

“Basically, we assess these words along the same standards [as all others],” Sofield said. “They have to show evidence for sufficient currency and longevity.”

Take for example LOL, which was added to the dictionary in 2011 and has changed parts of speech.

“You can talk about a tweet, say it has gotten a lot of LOLz and it can be pronounced as a word. You can see it appearing in popular books and novels especially ones aimed at young people,” Sofield said. People are using LOL unselfconsciously. They are able to say it without explanation and people know what they mean.”

Among the other words joining the dictionary in this update are hangry, the feeling of being so hungry you’re angry; wine o’clock, an appropriate time of day to begin drinking; and the gender neutral honorific Mx.

Once a word has made it into the dictionary, it will forever remain a part of the collection, Sofield said. That means perhaps centuries from now people may LOL about the term butt dial.

“It’s a record of all of the core words and meaning in English over more than 1,000 years,” Sofield explained. “It actually reports not just the meanings of words but the history.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Recent posts in National News