Oxford dictionary adds 'sext,' 'meh,' 'twerk'

Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus (l-r) perform at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in New York.
AP Photo

Who said the Oxford English Dictionary was behind the times?

The nearly 200-year-old definer of words added newcomers to its official ranks on Thursday, ranging from jeggings to staycation to photobomb—making sentences like I photobombed that sext of you in jeggings on our staycation totes legit. (Tweet This)

But not just any neologism can become a word in the online Oxford English Dictionary; a word generally has to have been in use in news stories and fiction for at least 10 years. That often means diligently tracing the roots of words like twerk, which can stretch back more than two centuries before it was destined to conjure up images of Miley Cyrus.

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In fact, the word stretches back to 1820 (originally spelled twirk) to describe 'a twisting or jerking movement,' before it was adopted by the New Orleans 90's 'bounce' music scene, according to the Oxford English Dictionary's latest blog post. Other words inevitably have far younger roots, like sext, which the dictionary cites as a blend of sex and text.

Recent trends in dieting wield the power to birth words as well, evidenced by the emergence of the word freegan, derived from a blend of free and vegan, which the dictionary reserves for 'a person who eats discarded food, typically collected from the refuse of shops or restaurants for ethical or ecological reasons.'

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And while there may be some English speakers that remain indifferent or unimpressed by the addition of the newly crowned words, at least the OED added a word for them: meh. The phrase once popularized by The Simpsons was actually in use online by 1992, two years before it was featured in the cartoon series, the blog post stated.

You can read more about the newly added words and their origins from the Oxford English Dictionary blog post.

—AP contributed to this report.

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