Posted in Technology & Research

Fun with Words: Oxford English Dictionary


If you think the Urban Dictionary is fun, you should take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).  For over 100 years it has traced the origin of words in the English language.

See if you can guess when the first recorded use of these popular slang terms occurred:

1. BFF: best friends (or friend) forever; a close friend, one’s best friend.

  • 1987
  • 1999
  • 2003
  • 2007

Answer: OMG, Becky! I had no idea that the first use of the term BFF was so close to the days of valley girls.  The original recorded usage is from 1987.  Oh, if only I still had that copy of Mimi Pond’s “The valley girls’ guide to life” that my super-cool cousin gave me when I was in 5th grade.  I could so totally like look up BFF and see if it was listed as valley speak.

2. Wassup: Representing a colloquial pronunciation of what’s up.

  • 1902
  • 1927
  • 1992
  • 2004

Answer: I know this is a tired phrase that your dad probably says when you call home, so you may have thought the first recorded usage occurred in 1992.  If that was your answer, I am  sad to say you are wrong.  This was originally used in 1902.  Sure, it may have taken 90 years to catch on, but technically it is older than your great grandfather.

3. Hipster: One who is ‘hip’; a hip- (or hep-)cat.

  • 1941
  • 1958
  • 1992
  • 2005

Answer: So, by the definition you can tell that the OED has not caught up yet with the modern definition of a hipster.  Soon, very soon, we expect an additional entry for this term signifying that a hipster is someone who dresses like their grandpa and thinks they are cool, but are sorely delusional.  Until then, in the eyes of the OED, hipster will continue to have the cool connotations it had when it was first recorded in 1941.

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