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Open Dictionary Word of the Month: fauxmance

© Royalty-Free / CorbisSubmissions to the Open Dictionary in August were slightly up on July, and approval levels were slightly down at 36%. I mentioned last month entries that I reject with regret because, although they have a certain appeal, there is no independent evidence of their use. The other side of this coin is words that look made up but are actually in use. Who knew that tender-crisp was a thing?

As you would expect, we get a lot of submissions of slang terms to the dictionary. August’s haul included gnarly (‘risky, extreme and radical’), hog (a Harley Davidson or other large motorbike), mudda (‘mother’) and netty (Geordie slang for toilet). We don’t have a slang label because it is such a loose and fluid category: some words are labelled ‘very informal’, to warn users that they should be used with care, while anything that might offend gets an ‘impolite’ or ‘offensive’ label.



The usual crop of rare, technical and literary words included chalcedony, comestible, deliquescent, efflorescence, gueridon, impavid, limber (the adjective), and pusillanimosity. As mentioned before, words of this type would struggle to justify their place in a paper learner’s dictionary but the electronic format frees us up to be much wider in our range of inclusions.

The fauxmance, my word of the month for August, has been around for a very long time, at least since the Golden Age of Hollywood when stars faked heterosexual relationships in order to keep their true sexuality private. The current form, in the shape of the celebrity relationship that may be genuine or may be designed to boost a flagging career, or even just feed the gossip mags and websites, is a pleasing example of a portmanteau. Thanks to Monika Dołęga from Poland for submitting it.

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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