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OED update or fake news?


The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has announced its latest update which includes ‘fake news’, ‘omnishambles’, and a collection of Star Wars terms among others.

While the internet has made it quick and easy to spread made-up news, fake news is not a modern day phenomenon. The history of fake news dates back to at least 1890, to a time when awareness of the amount of false or fabricated news stories sent to newspapers was on the rise. These days, the term is more likely to be used in association with stories circulated on social media and elsewhere online, or simply to brand any unflattering or critical media coverage as inaccurate, untrustworthy, or unduly partisan.

Omnishambles refers to a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, and was coined by scriptwriter Tony Roche for one of the foul-mouthed tirades of Malcolm Tucker in British TV series The Thick of It in 2009. Omnishambles was later picked up on social media before becoming main-stream in April 2012, when politician Ed Miliband referred to an ‘omnishambles Budget’—which went on to be chosen as Oxford’s Word of the Year that same year.

Our latest update includes a number of Star Wars words that, having made their way from a galaxy far, far away, are now part of everyday language. These include lightsabre, Jedi, Padawan, the Force, and Jedi mind trick. The latter, a term first used in the Star Wars universe in 1983, was, by 1990, being more widely used when referring to real-world psychological manipulation. Remove Jedi and the term mind trick is traceable back to 1894 when it meant ‘a trick of the mind, a delusion’. It took on a different sense, to mean ‘an act of manipulating someone psychologically’ in 1973, four years before the release of the first Star Wars film.

Other words in the update include bike sharing (the practice of making bicycles available for shared use), promposal (an invitation to be someone’s date at a school prom, largely used in North America), and buck naked (a colloquial term used to describe someone who is completely naked).

Find out more about these words and others that have been added to the OED.

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