Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dictionary takes the biscuit

Custard cream is entering the Oxford English Dictionary for the first time, along with muffin top, leetspeak and fascinator. Today's Daily Mirror tells you more about these new additions, while the press release and guide to new entries from the Concise OED reproduced below might give you more of an idea about how dictionaries are put together, where idioms such as "freeze the balls off a brass monkey" and "take the biscuit" come from and what's happening to our language.

Your guide to some of the new entries in the latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary

• n. a set of photographs displaying a fashion designer's new collection, assembled for
marketing purposes.

• adj. very fashionable: her fitted jacket is bang on-trend.

• n. a light, decorative woman's headpiece consisting typically of feathers, flowers, beads, etc. attached to a comb or hairclip.

muffin top
• n. informal a roll of fat visible above the top of a pair of women's tight-fitting low-waisted trousers.

• adj. denoting a style of clothing characterized by very tight-fitting garments: the body-con trend is big news at the moment.
— origin shortening of body-conscious.

vanity sizing
• n. the practice of assigning smaller sizes to articles of manufactured clothing than is really the case, in order to encourage sales.

custard cream
• n. Brit. a biscuit with a vanilla-flavoured cream filling.

• n. informal a celebrity.
— origin 1990s: representing a colloq. pronunc. of celeb.

• v. emulate or seem to be inspired by: Meg Ryan plays Avery as if she's channelling Nicole Kidman.

• n. the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, etc., especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.
• v. engage in cosplay.
— derivatives
cosplayer n.
— origin 1990s: blend of costume + play.

• n. Brit. an inner-city school which is funded partly by the government and partly by a private individual or organization.

• n. another term for biomarker. naturally occurring molecule, gene, or characteristic by which a particular medical condition, disease, etc. can be identified.

• v. start up (an Internet-based business or other enterprise) with minimal
financial resources.

boiler room
• n. a room or office in which many operators engage in high-pressure telephone sales, especially of risky or worthless investments.

• n. a network of private computers infected with malicious software and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge, e.g. to send spam messages.

bragging rights
• pl. n. a temporary position of ascendancy in a closely contested rivalry: it's
over 25 years since Burnley last had the bragging rights in East Lancashire.

busted flush
• n. (in poker) a hand containing four cards of the same suit and one of a different suit. informal a promising person or thing that turns out to be unsuccessful: her leadership is already a busted flush.

car crash
• n. informal a chaotic or disastrous event or situation that holds a ghoulish fascination for onlookers or observers: her life is turning into a car crash.

cc (also c.c.)
• v. (cc's, cc'ing, cc'd) send a copy of an email to (a third party).

• n. a severe shortage of money or credit: the beleaguered company has become the latest victim of the credit crunch.

• adj. feeling elated because one is about to leave a stressful or responsible job or situation.

/"drUkIt/ (also droukit)
• adj. Scottish extremely wet; drenched.
— origin
C16: origin uncertain; cf. ON drukna ‘to be drowned’.

• adj. — phrases
fit for purpose (of an institution, facility, etc.) well equipped or well suited for its designated role or purpose.

• n. chiefly N. Amer. a bag packed with essential items, kept ready for use in the event of an emergency evacuation of one's home.

goji berry /"g«UdZi/
• n. a bright red edible berry widely cultivated in China, supposed to contain high levels of certain vitamins. See also wolfberry. either of two shrubs (Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense) on which goji berries grow.
— origin from Chin.

• n. [with modifier] a dominant contender within a particular sphere of operation or activity: they'll be up against the 800-lb gorilla in this business, Sony.

• n. an informal language or code used in Internet chatrooms, email, etc., in which numerals or special characters are used to represent standard letters.
— origin from leet, representing a pronunc. of elite, and -speak.

locavore/"l«Uk«vOÉ/ (also localvore /"l«UkÒ«ÔlvOÉ/)
• n. N. Amer. a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or
produced food. — origin C21: on the pattern of carnivore, herbivore, etc.

• pl. n. the shoots of salad vegetables such as rocket, celery, beetroot, etc., picked just after the first leaves have developed.

• n. chiefly N. Amer. a non-alcoholic drink consisting of a mixture of fruit juices or other soft drinks. — origin 1930s: blend of mock + cocktail.

• n. Brit. a young person who is not in education, employment, or training.
— origin acronym.

non dom

• n. Brit. a person who lives in a country but is not legally domiciled in it, thereby sometimes obtaining tax advantages in the country concerned.

• n. informal a person's guest at a social function.

• v. (on the social networking site Facebook) attract the attention of (another member of the site) by using the ‘poke’ facility.

pump and dump
• n. the fraudulent practice of encouraging investors to buy shares in a company in order to inflate the price artificially, and then selling one's own shares while the price is high.

• adj. enabling a person to feel that they can relate to someone or something: Mary-Kate's problems make her more relatable.

able to be related to something else.

• adj. referring to credit or loan arrangements for borrowers with a poor credit
history, typically having unfavourable conditions such as high interest rates.

train wreck
• n. informal a chaotic or disastrous situation that holds a ghoulish fascination for onlookers or observers: his train wreck of a private life guaranteed front-page treatment.

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