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Open Dictionary Word of the Month: Brexiter

© PHOTOALTOFebruary saw 136 new entries accepted into the Open Dictionary. Remarkably this is almost exactly the same number as in January. Just over double that number were rejected, meaning that the proportion of entries accepted also remained remarkably constant.

One of the great things about the Open Dictionary is that it allows us to track the linguistic innovations that spring from social change almost in real time. These words and phrases might never make it into the ‘official’ dictionary, but by means of the Open Dictionary their existence is recorded just in case the thing they relate to becomes a permanent feature of society and hence of the language.



A case in point is KonMari. Anyone who ever looks at a lifestyle magazine will be aware of the vogue for decluttering your home (and, by extension, your life) as propounded by a personable young Japanese woman called Marie Kondo. You may even have bought one of her four books, which describe her methods. The nickname KonMari which she has applied to her method gets half a million hits on Google and, as our user Finnfield from Finland has noted, is used not only as an adjective but also as a verb. It may be that Marie Kondo will have a long and successful career as a tidiness guru; alternatively her philosophy of tidying may give way to another trend in just a few months. But in the meantime it’s interesting to record both the phenomenon and the language it has produced.

Another new addition that may or may not survive is climatarian (and its extension climatarianism).  In recent years there has been a proliferation of terms referring to the ways in which people choose to organise their diet, from fruitarians to flexitarians and freegans, and from locavores to lacto-vegetarians. Time will tell whether climatarian is a stayer, but for now we can note the fact that some people are deciding what to eat on the basis of not only their own health but that of the planet.

But in the month when the UK embarked on the journey towards a referendum on whether to leave or stay in the European Union, to be held in June, there really could only be one Open Dictionary Word of the Month. While Brexit has gone from being a journalist’s joke to a topic for urgent debate in a matter of just a few years, and has even started to be used as a verb, we now have a new term for someone who is strongly in favour of leaving the EU. And that person is not an Outer, though the term is also used, but a Brexiter.

Thanks for all your submissions and do keep them coming. If there’s a word or expression that you think deserves inclusion in the Open Dictionary you can submit it here. Don’t forget to check first to make sure your word isn’t in our dictionary already.

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Liz Potter

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