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One hundred years of Roald Dahl: an Oxford English Dictionary update
12 September 2016
This month the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) announced its latest update, including more than 1,000 updated entries and 1,200 new senses. With the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth and the publication of the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary, the update incorporates a range of new entries containing references to Roald Dahl’s writing.
The words are recognizably Dahlesque, such as Oompa Loompa (Willy Wonka's musical workers in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory); Scrumdiddlyumptious (for when ‘scrumptious’ just won’t suffice), and witching hour (described by Roald Dahl in The BFG as the ‘special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up [is] in a deep deep sleep’).
Chief Editor of the OED, Michael Proffitt commented: “The inclusion in the OED of a number of words coined by or associated with Roald Dahl reflects both his influence as an author and his vivid and distinctive style. For many children Roald Dahl’s work is not only one of their first experiences of reading, but also their earliest exposure to the creative power of language.”
Luke Kelly, Managing Director of The Roald Dahl Literary Estate and Roald Dahl’s grandson said: “It’s no secret that my grandfather, Roald Dahl, took particular relish in playing with language and making it his own. Of all the many wonderful tributes being paid to him in his centenary year, the inclusion of his words and phrases within the iconic Oxford English Dictionary feels not only one of the most fitting but one that I know would have made him extremely happy and proud.”
Vineeta Gupta, Head of Children’s Dictionaries at Oxford University Press added: “We know Roald Dahl continues to inspire millions of children around the world and also holds a special place in the hearts of adults. We were delighted to publish the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary for children this year. And now, it is wonderful to see that some of Roald Dahl’s word inventions have moved out of the confines of children’s reading and writing and into adult language, and have stood the test of time to be captured in the Oxford English Dictionary.”
Other interesting OED additions include 'gender-fluid' (first recorded in 1987, and refers to a person who does not identify with a single fixed gender), 'moobs' (the chiefly British colloquialism, first recorded in 2001, used to describe unusually prominent breasts on a man, typical as a result of excess pectoral fat), and 'YOLO' (a popular acronym used on social media, meaning ‘you only live once’).