Bitcoin enters Oxford Dictionaries Online

Emily Spaven
Aug 28, 2013 at 12:40 UTC
Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 11:05 UTC

Bitcoin has made it onto Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) in the respected resource’s latest quarterly update.

The term has been added to ODO alongside around 120 other words, including ‘flatform’ (a flat shoe with a high, thick sole), ‘phablet’ (a smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer) and Miley Cyrus’ favourite – ‘twerk’ (dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance).

Angus Stevenson, head of dictionary projects at Oxford Dictionaries, explained that the criterion a word or phrase has to meet in order to make it onto ODO is pretty strict. His team collects, searches and analyses objective evidence of language use in a database called the Oxford English Corpus. “This consists of billions of words from websites, newspapers, magazines and other publications,” he said.

“We found that bitcoin was a pretty common word, there’s a lot of evidence for it on the internet,” Stevenson explained.

“We feel it has earned its place – it’s frequently discussed in the mainstream media as well as particular parts of the internet and we traced it back to 2008 – that’s the earliest date we found of its use, so far, so that’s a fair while.”

bitcoin, n.: a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank.”

Stevenson went on to say he thinks the word bitcoin has the potential to become an even more widely used word in the future, but stressed that its inclusion in ODO, which works alongside the Oxford English Dictionary, doesn’t necessarily legitimise digital currency.

He explained: “Inclusion in the ODO provides a recognition that a term has entered public consciousness and wide public use, it doesn’t make any judgement on whether it is good, bad, worthwhile or anything else.

“It’s just that we feel that, as a word, it is in genuine wide use and we feel it will stick around as part of the language. It may become a byword for a failed scheme, but we don’t know in real terms what will become of it.”

Vladimir Marchenko, CTO at BTC Global, said he wasn’t surprised to see bitcoin make it into ODO, but was interested in the chosen definition: “The definition states that bitcoin eliminates the need to trust central banks. Bitcoin, in fact eliminates need for trust in any third party. But, of course, the central bank example is the most striking.”

He went on to say he would like ‘satoshi’ to be recognised in the dictionary as the smallest denomination of bitcoin.

“It’s inevitable, given that there are only 300,000 satoshis or 0.003 BTC per person in the world, on average,” he concluded.

Here’s a selection of the terms that have been added to ODO:

apols, pl. n. (informal): apologies.
babymoon, n. (informal): a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born; a period of time following the birth of a baby during which the new parents can focus on establishing a bond with their child.
BYOD, n.: abbreviation of ‘bring your own device’: the practice of allowing the employees of an organization to use their own computers, smartphones, or other devices for work purposes.
click and collect, n.: a shopping facility whereby a customer can buy or order goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch.
digital detox, n.: a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
emoji, n: a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion in electronic communication.
FOMO, n.: fear of missing out: anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
food baby, n.: a protruding stomach caused by eating a large quantity of food and supposedly resembling that of a woman in the early stages of pregnancy.
geek chic, n.: the dress, appearance, and culture associated with computing and technology enthusiasts, regarded as stylish or fashionable.
hackerspace, n.: a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge.
selfie, n. (informal): a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
TL;DR, abbrev.: ‘too long didn’t read’: used as a dismissive response to a lengthy online post, or to introduce a summary of a lengthy post.
vom, v. & n. (informal): (be) sick; vomit.

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