Bridezilla to bashtag: Collins dictionary gets 86 new crowdsourced words

A while back we told you about a campaign HarperCollins was running to crowdsource words for the next version of the Collins dictionary. Turns out there’s a fair few amateur lexicographers out there.

The British publisher today approved its first batch of 86 new crowdsourced words and definitions. This after receiving some 4 400 submissions through, which will be updated once a month with the best user suggestions.

All the new words — including bridezilla (“a woman whose behaviour in planning details of her wedding is regarded as intolerable”), helicopter parent (“a parent who is excessively involved in the life of his or her child”) and tweetup (“a meeting at which people who communicate with each other via the social networking site Twitter meet face to face”) — were apparently vetted by Collins editors using the publisher’s normal rigorous review process.

The publisher reckons that the process means its dictionary evolves, like English, in real-time:

While other publishers are making annual or quarterly updates behind closed doors, Collins chose to capture changes to the English language in real-time through public suggestions and comments. The result is an open, living dictionary that can keep up with the pace of social media and technology.

“Inviting the public into the submission and feedback process has given our editors immediate insight into the way the English language is evolving,” said Alex Brown, head of digital at Collins. “Because now accepts submissions on an ongoing basis, we will be able to better monitor emerging words as the pace of change within the English language continues to accelerate.”

Many of the new words and definitions originated from social media and technology, such as FaceTime, BBM and Bing. While most are brand-new words, Collins also updated some existing entries with new definitions — such as acknowledging that Facebook is now a verb and spinning can be used to describe “a form of high-intensity exercise using exercise bikes.” Other words have their roots in politics, science, business, humour, pop culture and entertainment.

Some of the other words added to the dictionary include:

  • bashtag: a Twitter hashtag that is used for critical and abusive comments
  • crowdfunding: the funding of a project by a large number of supporters who each contribute a small amount
  • cyberstalking: the practice of using electronic communications to harass someone persistently
  • floordrobe: informal a pile of clothes left on the floor of a room
  • frenemy: a supposed friend who behaves in a treacherous manner
  • hangry: irritable as a result of feeling hungry
  • hyperconnectivity: the use of multiple systems and devices to remain constantly connected to social networks and streams of information
  • new money: money and wealth that has not been inherited
  • shabby chic: a style of interior design that uses worn or distressed furnishings to achieve a romantic effect
  • thanx: informal thank you

HarperCollins isn’t the only publishing house that’s giving its dictionary a more social edge. Much to our managing editor’s disgust, words like ‘Lolz’, ‘Ridic’ & ‘Mwhahaha’ were recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary.



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