linguistics and lexicography Love English

From belfie to twitterhoea: new words from social media

social mediaAll this month, we’re celebrating the fact that the Open Dictionary has now been integrated with the main Dictionary in search results.

A major source of new words these days is of course social media. And with that in mind, I’ve scoured the Open Dictionary archives to find the best contributions the worlds of Facebook and Twitter have made to our vocabulary.



So, study the top 10 below and then join in the fun by adding your suggestions in the comments or in the Open Dictionary itself!

#1: twinterview
Ever sat glued to Twitter as your favourite sports star, singer or author gets grilled by their followers? Well then, you’ve watched a twinterview (twitter + interview).

#2: tweetathon
Not to be confused with the twinterview, the tweetathon (tweet + marathon) is a more collaborative affair, where tweeters work together during an extended event or campaign to promote a cause under a hashtag decided in advance. Take #BackClimateAction as a famous recent example.

#3: sharebait
Do headlines like ‘Which Disney character are you?’ or ‘What’s your Bond villain name?’ grab your attention as you go about your daily news feed scrolling? If so you’re falling victim to sharebait or, put more specifically, posts that are designed to encourage sharing to help them go viral.

#4: felfie
Yep, you guessed it: this one’s an evolution of the selfie, but with a twist… as this time it refers to a photo you take of you and your family (family + selfie)!

#5: e-pal
The beauty of social media is that it can bring you into contact with all manner of people without ever even having to meet face to face. And that’s exactly how you make an e-pal!

#6: subtweet
In Twitter etiquette, the practice of mentioning someone’s name (often negatively) without preceding it with an @ symbol is a highly divisive issue, considered by many as rude. So be careful with your subtweets, guys!

#7: twitterhoea
The golden rule of Twitter is being concise. But there are times when 140 characters just won’t do the job. This sometimes leads to the complaint of twitterhoea (twitter + diarrhoea), where users find themselves swamping people’s timelines with multiple tweets to express a single idea.

#8: belfie
Some celebrities are proponents of this modern phenomenon, involving taking a selfie where one’s backside is the main focus of artistic attention.

#9: twintern
An increasingly common first step on the career ladder for raw young graduates is to be given the reins of the company Twitter account to prove their worth. Have you ever been a twintern (twitter + intern)?

#10: twitter-cation
So you’ve binged on Twitter: religiously refreshing your favourite celebrities’ feeds, putting the world to rights with your friends, and arguing about last night’s match with strangers. But now you need to take a break before your thumbs do. Sounds like you need a twitter-cation (twitter + vacation)!

You may already have seen our quiz, but if not, then I recommend you take it to test your knowledge of some trending words that will impress your friends.

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Henry Firth

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