Language focus | 20.05.2016

Our favourite OED updates from March 2016

The internet and social media have provided us with new platforms for everyday communication and it is particularly important for translators to keep abreast of new language usage. Much of the content required for translation is destined for the virtual world, from online advertising campaigns and press releases to multilingual websites, so keeping up-to-date with new nuances in the language and current trends is crucial to conveying the message in the right tone to the target audience.


In one of our November blog posts we looked at the Oxford English Dictionary’s (OED) 2015 Word of the Year, and with the passing of 2016’s first quarter come over 500 additions to the dictionary. With technology and popular culture often leading the way when it comes to the new and revised entries in the Oxford English Dictionary[1], we thought we’d take a closer look at some of our favourite and most notable additions of the year so far.

celebritydom n. the world of celebrities; celebrities collectively; (also) the status or condition of being a celebrity.[2]

The start of the year marks awards season with the Golden Globes, Grammys and of course the Academy Awards, so this first revision incorporating updates to the entry for celebrity is a topical one. New sub-entries include celebrity culture, celebrity chef, celebrity endorsement and celebrity status. And the OED has now added celebritydom and celebrityhood, too. However, their first use isn’t as recent as you might think: the OED found evidence of them being referenced as early as 1949 and 1951, respectively.

Epic fail n. and int. colloq. (esp. in the language of social media) a complete failure or misadventure, esp. in an undertaking expected to proceed smoothly; a total disaster; frequently as int.2

The inclusion of this collocation into the OED demonstrates the increased use of ‘fail’ rather than ‘failure’ as a noun in everyday informal speech. With its likely origins amongst gamers circa. 2008, this trend coincided with the more regular and hyperbolic use of ‘epic’ in social media. It has become an internet cult, with many thousands of memes captioned ‘Epic Fail’ depicting amusing and embarrassing failures.

Vlog n. a blog composed of posts in video form; (also) a video forming part of such a blog.2

Vlog is the blending of ‘video’ and ‘blog’ (with ‘blog’ itself actually an abbreviation of ‘weblog’). Its creation has also led to new verb vlog and nouns vlogger and vlogging, all debutants to the OED in this latest update.

The OED’s first example of vlog in use is in Australia in 2002, just a couple of years before the launch of YouTube, which celebrated its 10th birthday last year. The popularity of vlogs is undeniable and many vloggers now boast millions of subscribers to their channels. Our modern use of video technology has produced a host of new collocations which now feature in the 2016 edition including video calling, video chat and video streaming.

When so much communication now takes place online, it is no surprise that technology and popular culture has a real influence on language development and is the source of so many new words and collocations. What are your own favourite additions to the OED this year? The next updates to the OED are in June. It will be interesting to see which new entries make the list!

[1] The Oxford English Dictionary (2016) Retrieved May 6 2016, from
[2] The Oxford English Dictionary (2016) Available from

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