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Open Dictionary Word of the Month: Zika virus

© PhotoDisc / Getty Images137 new entries entered the Open Dictionary in January, almost the same as in December. Overall submissions were slightly higher, meaning that the percentage of entries accepted – around 30% – was a little lower than in the previous months.

A fair number of scientific and medical terms were added this month. The former range from anthropogenic and autophagy to pleiotropic and metabolome, while the latter include nasoplasty and the horribly topical microcephaly.



The current interest in questions of gender identity was reflected in additions such as androgyne, LGBTI, gender incongruence/incongruent, transgenderism and non-binary. Wider social trends were reflected in elevator pitch, property guardian, hyperlocalist, adulting, repat and bleisure (an unappealing blend of business and leisure). A new (to me) meaning of lifer indicates that we now need a term to describe those rare beasts who stay with the same firm throughout their careers.

New technology was represented by a new verb, to emoji, and a newish noun meaning for reboot, as well as (the probably shortlived) text door neighbour and gaming terms mod and modding.

My word of the month, Zika virus, illustrates the way in which a previously rare and technical term can come out of nowhere to become part of everyday discourse as a result of events in the real world.

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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