Heart symbol enters Oxford English Dictionary
The heart sign has entered the Oxford English Dictionary as the first graphical symbol to signify a word in the reference work's 127-year history.
Readers looking up the word “heart” will find the symbol listed as an entirely new usage, as a verb meaning “to love”.
Perhaps the most famous example, which is included in the latest edition of the dictionary, is the New York tourism advertising slogan: I [heart] NY.
Its earliest recorded use is on a car bumper sticker printed in the US in 1984, which read: “I [heart] my dog’s head.”
Researchers believe the use of the heart symbol in this way is the first time a typographical innovation developed through such bumper stickers and tee-shirts has entered mainstream language use.
The symbol is among 45,437 new words and meanings added to the latest revision of the dictionary, which is held to be the most authoritative and comprehensive record of the English language in the world.
Among the additions are phrases which reflect the spread of technology, such as OMG, an abbreviation of “Oh my God” used in mobile phone texting, and dotbomb for an internet company which has spectacularly failed.
Changing obsessions in society are also reflected in the first entries for: Wags – the wives and girlfriends of footballers; muffin top – “a protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers”; and ego-surfing – “searching on the internet for mentions of one’s own name”.
The newest addition to the rich variety of English words for being drunk is now lashed (also included as the phrase on the lash), while the happy camper and the domestic goddess should avoid bogus callers, or they might suffer a crack-up and end up in singledom.
Several entries reflect the nation’s increasingly eclectic diet, with the first mentions of: banh mi – a Vietnamese sandwich with pickles and meat; taquito - a small Mexican taco, or fried roll of filled maize bread; and kleftiko – a Greek dish of slow-cooked lamb.
The OED was first published in 10 volumes in 1884, but it took 100 years for the full second edition to be published, by which time its size had doubled to over 59million words in 20 volumes.
A comprehensive updating was begun in 1989, and it is now available online, where the latest meanings will be added today.
The largest single entry is the verb “to run”, which has 645 different senses, phrases and idiomatic uses. Its entry is half as large again as the next-longest one, which is “to put”.
Graeme Diamond, the principal editor of the OED's new words group, said: "While symbols do become spelt-out words relatively frequently, it’s usually only with a mundane meaning as the name of the symbol - “star” for *, “hash” for #, and so on.
"It’s very unusual for it to happen in such an evocative and tangential way, and this is due to the special place the heart (as an organ of the human body) occupies in the language.
"In English, since the late 12th century the heart had been thought of as the seat of love and affection."
New words or meanings:
Bang one’s head against a brick wall – (phrase) to engage in a futile or fruitless effort
Domestic goddess – (noun) a woman likened to a goddess of the home.
Fabless – (adj) from fabrication, describing a technology company which does not do its own manufacturing.
Five-second rule (also three- and ten-) – (noun) a notional rule which permits the retrieval and consumption of dropped food within the specified period of time
Hedge one’s bets – (phrase) to confront uncertain circumstances by pursuing multiple courses of action; to avoid committing oneself.
Lashed - (adj) drunk, intoxicated.
Scrunchy – (adj) of a wrinkled or ruffled appearance
State-run – (adj) operated or managed by the government of a country
Tragic – (noun) a boring or socially inept person, especially a person who pursues a solitary interest with obsessive dedication
Tinfoil hat – (noun) used with allusion to the belief that such a hat made of metal foil will protect the wearer from mind control or surveillance
Storming – (adj) great, excellent, marvellous
Tasty – (adj) violent, good at fighting
Wags – (noun, plural) wives and girlfriends of a group of professional football players, typically characterised as having a high media profile and a glamorous or extravagant lifestyle; (in extended use) the wives and girlfriends of any group of men, esp. celebrities or sportsmen. Also in singular.
Yuck factor – (noun) a feeling of horror, revulsion, or disgust generated by an idea, action or situation
Source: Daily Telegraph