I am glad Collins Dictionary has taken a leaf out of Urban Dictionary and begun crowdsourcing words. Strangely, the word “crowdsourcing” is not yet found in the online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) though it’s there in Collins, Macmillan, Merriam-Webster and several other online dictionaries.
Crowdsourcing, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers”. The first known use of the word, it says, was in 2006.
Collins has started crowdsourcing by adding new words to the dictionary suggested by the public. As it says:
Since 17th July CollinsDictionary.com has been accepting new word suggestions from anyone who wants to be part of the evolution of the English language. Our hard-working dictionary editors have been busy sorting through more than four thousand entries since then, and can now reveal a list of eighty-six new words and senses that have been added to CollinsDictionary.com.
There has been a lot of talk on the internet since Collins announced the list on September 10.
What surprised me, however, was that several of the new words added have been around for quite some time. The new additions, for example, include words like “cyber bully”, “cyberstalking”, “on the same page” (meaning “working in harmony”), “a full plate” (“a large and onerous amount of work”) and “frenemy” (“a person who is considered both a friend and a rival”), which are hardly new.
Lovers of new words will not be disappointed, however. There are neologisms such as “amazeballs” (defined as “an expression of enthusiastic approval”), “bridezilla” (slang, “ a woman whose behaviour in planning the details of her wedding is regarded as intolerable”), “mummy porn” (informal, derogatory, “a genre of erotic fiction designed to appeal to women”), “photobomb” (informal, “to intrude into the background of a photograph without the subject’s knowledge”).
You can, of course, do without those colourful new English words.
But some of the new entries in Collins are indispensable. Take the word, “captcha”, for example, which means “a test in which the user of a website is asked to decipher a distorted image, used to protect the website against automated attacks”. We come across captchas almost every time we want to register for a new service or website. So it has to be included in dictionaries. The word can be found in Macmillan, but surprisingly not in Merriam-Webster and OED.
There are other useful new words in Collins such as “livestream”, which can be used as a verb (“to broadcast an event on the internet as it happens”) as well as a noun (“a live broadcast of an event on the internet”). The word has become so common on the internet, so it is surprising that it is not yet found in Macmillan, Merriam-Webster and OED.
In fact, a check at OneLook.com showed the word “livestream” is found only in Wikipedia and Wordnik. It’s not yet found even in Urban Dictionary.
So, yes, Collins is performing a useful service.
I particularly liked the fact that it has added the word “bunbury” (“to create a fictitious scenario that provides an excuse for avoiding unwanted engagements”), a word coined by Oscar Wilde, who used it in the play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Yes, it’s also there in OED.
Check the full list of new words added to CollinsDictionary.com this month and see which ones you like best. “We’re still accepting new word suggestions, and will update the site regularly with the latest words to enter the English language,” says Collins.
Neologisms can have a short shelf life, however. See the rise and fall of “groovy”.