Quiddtich, a fantasy sport played in J K Rowling’s magical Harry Potter franchise, along with words like ‘cli-fi’ and ‘showmance’ are among over 40 new additions in the latest update of the Oxford Dictionary.
The non-magical iteration of Quiddtich has been around for a little over ten years, originating at Middlebury College in Vermont, and is played with broomsticks held between the legs.
Also escaping the realms of fiction to join the real world is the word cromulent - meaning “acceptable or adequate” - which was first used over twenty years ago in The Simpsons as a descriptor of the word ‘embiggen’ used in an engraving on a statue of the town founder.
Embiggen is another addition from the latest update, but is not entirely new to the English language. Research shows it was used as far back as the late 19th century, according to a Oxford Dictionary blog post.
The word did not really spread into common usage until its appearance in The Simpsons, but has stuck around for the intervening twenty years.
Similarly straddling the line between reality and fiction is the new word ‘showmance’. This refers to a romantic relationship between co-stars, but particularly one contrived for the sake of publicity.
Latte art - illustrations made by carefully pouring steamed milk onto the drink’s surface - was also included in the new update.
Another new word ‘Mary Sue’ refers to “a type of female character who is depicted as unrealistically lacking in flaws or weaknesses”, and was used originally in fan fiction before spreading out to more general usage.
The Mary Sue from which the word is derived was a character in a work of 1973 Star Trek fan fiction that parodied works featuring such characters.
‘Cli-fi’ refers to the genre of fiction exploring issues around climate change and global warming, and is modelled after its hypernym sci-fi.
With the growth of concerns about the environment, there have been changes to existing practices, giving rise to words like ‘agroecology’ to describe the ‘application of ecological principles to agricultural systems.’