After the Oxford American Dictionary deemed “GIF” the 2012 word of the year and officially adopted friendzone into its ranks, you’d be forgiven for feeling like they’re starting to cater to the Internet savvy among us. That sneaky suspicion about pandering will probably only get worse with the news that the Oxford English Dictionary has officially amended the definition of the word “tweet” to incorporate its web meaning.
The OED’s definition now includes both the verb and noun usages of the word on Twitter:
a. intr. To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter. Also: to use Twitter regularly or habitually. Cf. tweet n. 2.
b. trans. To post (a message, item of information, etc.) on Twitter. Also: to post a message to (a particular person, organization, etc.). Cf.
According to lexicographer Ben Zimmer, the general rule of thumb for the OED is that a word must be in use for around ten years to warrant inclusion, but the rules can be relaxed, particularly in the case of tech-related words.
“It’s happened a few times when it comes to ‘techie’ words that have taken off very quickly,” Mr. Zimmer told Betabeat. “Two examples are Google, as a verb, and podcast, as a noun or verb. Both of those took off quickly enough that the [OED] felt the words were entrenched enough and weren’t going anywhere.”
“The criteria are really just that it needs to have a very strong record in terms of print sources,” he added. “So if ‘tweet’ is appearing everywhere in major publications, then there’s really no denying that it’s become firmly fixed in the lexicon.”
The OED has traced the word back to 2007, nearly a year after the launch of the social networking phenom, where it originated among Twitter users to refer to the act of writing a message on Twitter, as well as the messages themselves.
The American Dialect Society voted “tweet” the Word of the Year in 2010, and “hashtag” was 2012’s winner.
We’re hoping the OED nod means that our parents will finally stop saying they “twittered” us.