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Open Dictionary Word of the Month: xe

© PhotoDisc / Getty Images / Lisa Zador145 new entries were accepted into the Open Dictionary in December, slightly down on November. Overall submissions were slightly down, but the percentage of entries accepted was very similar to the previous month. The trend over the half year since we started counting has been for the overall number of submissions to fall (which is good, because it means we are getting less spam) and the percentage of entries accepted to rise (also good, because it means that the quality of submissions is improving).

New media continue to figure, with additions such as textspeak and online abbreviations such as tbf, tfti, and idc. These have been around for a while, but are only now making their way into the dictionary. The digital world featured further in items like the newish sense of swipe, the phrasal verb take down (a website), youtube and instagram used as verbs, the noun information society and the adjective web-based.

To balance out these novelties we had a scattering of old and infrequent words: astrolabe, congeries, defenestrate and recondite among them. Science and medicine were represented by words like ablation, annelid, hydrography, and my favourite, the wonderfully named islets of Langerhans, which sound like Baltic holiday resorts but are in fact groups of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

My word of the month reflects changing ideas about gender and sexuality: not heteroflexible, but the gender-neutral pronoun xe, pronounced /zi/, added by a user in the US. Gender is a hot topic at the moment and it will be interesting to see if this term, and others like it, gain a place in everyday language use.

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

Liz Potter

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