Anybody connected to the Web already knows that a tweet is more than a sound a bird makes. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which considers itself the definitive record of acceptable English words, has just formalized its status as a legitimate noun and verb in relation to social media site Twitter. “The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED,” wrote Oxford English Dictionary Chief Editor John Simpson in OED’s June release. “This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for 10 years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on.” Twitter was founded in 2006, which makes the micro-blogging term’s inclusion in the dictionary three years too early under OED’s requirement.
The expanded definition of the word, along with popular social media terms “follow” and “follower,” came with 1,200 other new and modified words announced. According to OED’s blog, “There has been, for example, a threefold increase in instances of the word tweet between 2006 and 2007 (when Twitter began), and by 2012, this had increased to 50 times.”
Here are the newly updated definitions of the Twitter terms we already know so well, published in the OED:
- Tweet (noun): A posting made on the social networking service Twitter.
- Tweet (verb): To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter.
- Follow (verb): To track the activities or postings of (a person, group, etc.) by subscribing to their account on a social media website or application.
- Follower (noun): A person who follows a particular person, group, etc., on a social media Web site or application.
Other tech-related new words listed on OED this month include big data, crowdsourcing, e-reader, geekery, live-blogging (as well as live blog and live-blog), mouseover, redirect (the noun), and stream (the verb). New sub-entries were defined for search engine optimization and its acronym SEO. Fans of The Simpsons will be glad to know that the phrase “to have a cow” popularized by the show is now an accepted alternate of “to have a fit.”