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18 August 2011

W00t Puts Down Roots

Almost four years after w00t was named Word of the Year by Merriam Webster, it has finally been granted a place in the next edition of the OED. As the full list of new words hasn't been revealed on the OED's website, I have only second-hand sources like this article in the Telegraph to go on, and naturally the Torygraph was keen to highlight other trendy words, like jeggings (but not Jedward), retweet and sexting.

Interestingly, over the past four years, w00t's spelling has become more conventional; the news outlets reporting this story are all spelling it as woot, and a Google search pulls up 57.7 million hits for woot and only 17 million for w00t (most of the latter on Slashdot and 4chan). Technically, woot already appears in the OED, although it doesn't get its own entry. In the entry for wit (meaning "to know," as in "to wit"), there's a nice quotation from The Canterbury Tales featuring the word: "For aught I woot he was of Dertemouthe" (for all I know, he came from Dartmouth). It also appears as a variant form of "you will" in Middle English. "Woo't weepe, woo't fight...woo't teare thy selfe?" (will you cry? Will you fight? Will you cut yourself?). OK, so woot 2.0 isn't exactly taking the place of a word that is likely to be retweeted any time soon...

As for w00t, I still use it occasionally, although much less than I used to. And I definitely still use Bridezilla, 3G and backstabbing, all of which were added to the OED last year (the latter seemed to arrive several decades late), but I've still never heard anyone use a-life, bum rap or panga...

Edit: I've now found a post by the editor, Angus Stevenson, on the OUP blog about this. I do subscribe to this blog but I must have missed this post. Perhaps he should have put textspeak (which was, I thought spelled txtspk; see this post) or one of the other newly accepted words, into the title.

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