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'Fleek,' 'yaas' and a crying emoji: How dictionaries are staying relevant in a time of Internet slang




Oxford Dictionaries announced the tears-of-joy emoji as its “Word of the Year” last month.
Oxford Dictionaries announced the tears-of-joy emoji as its “Word of the Year” last month.
Caleb Jones/AP

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Oxford Dictionaries announced the tears-of-joy emoji as its “Word of the Year” last month, which left many pondering what constitutes as a word, and why a piece of internet slang would be powerful enough to get such notoriety.

But emoji’s aren’t the only internet slang that’s popped up in dictionaries, “wtf” and “nsfw” have also made the cut for Merriam-Webster, along with “fleek” in Dictionary.com. Vocabulary enthusiasts may cringe at the idea, but the English language is constantly changing, so doesn’t it make sense that dictionaries would adapt accordingly?

With the accessibility of Google and UrbanDictionary.com, the likes of Oxford and Merriam-Webster have had to keep up, which means including internet slang.

What do you think of Oxford naming an emoji as its “word” of the year? Should dictionaries keep adding new slang to their repertoire or does including them make a mockery of the English language?

Guest:

Caitlin Dewey, digital culture critic for the Washington Post and author of the article, "Why dictionaries have started sanctioning even the dumbest Internet slang"