‘Hot Mess’ Dates to 1899 and 5 Other Pieces of News from the Latest OED Update
The Oxford English Dictionary just announced its latest update, adding 500 new words and over 2400 new senses of existing words to its online database. Here are some of the best bits from the new expansion.
1. HOT MESS DATES TO 1899
The earliest sense of hot mess was a warm meal served to a group. These days it’s U.S. slang for “something or someone in extreme confusion or disorder." This sense really took off in the 1990s, but the first citation for this meaning is from an 1899 issue of the Monthly Journal of the International Association of Machinists, and it’s a beautiful specimen: “Verily, I say unto you, the public is a hot mess.”
2. TWERK DATES TO 1848
The specific dance sense of twerk began in the 1990s, but as far back as 1848 it was a verb meaning “to move (something) with a twitching, twisting, or jerking motion.”
3. PEOPLE HAVE DONE THINGS GUERRILLA STYLE SINCE 1888
The newest sense of guerrilla is as a modifier “designating activities conducted in an irregular, unorthodox, and spontaneous way, without regard to established conventions, rules and formalities.” While guerrilla knitting (or yarnbombing) is a concept of the early 2000s, and guerrilla art, guerrilla gardening, and guerrilla marketing started in the 1970s, guerrilla advertising goes all the way back to 1888.
4. NEW WORDS FROM PHILIPPINES ENGLISH
In Philippines English (also spoken in Filipino neighborhoods in the US), gimmick means “a night out with friends.” Carnap is “to steal a car,” and presidentiable is “a person who is a likely or confirmed candidate for president.” Useful!
5. NEW WORDS FROM SOUTH ASIAN ENGLISH
In the English spoken in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, a motorcade is called a carcade, and “a film with an ensemble cast featuring many star performers” is a multi-starrer.
6. OTHER NEW WORDS
Other words that just made the dictionary include meh, freegan, fo’ shizzle, twitterati, cisgender, intersectionality, SCOTUS, FLOTUS, and the phrasal verb go on in examples like “I went on Facebook,” meaning “to access or use the Internet, a web site, social media, etc.”