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New words show what we are

New words show what we are

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 03:31 IST

Perhaps it is a sign of the times that 'war' is 49th on the list of the 100 commonest words in English, but 'peace' is nowhere in sight.

'Problems' enters the chart at No. 24; 'solution' is not on the list. 'Work' is 16th, but 'play' and 'rest' do not figure in the top 100, according to the new revised eleventh edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary that will be published on August 21.

The concern with work — and problems — also shows in some of the new words and phrases that enter the Concise Oxford Dictionary (first published in 1911) this year. There is 'elevator pitch', a short sales pitch intended to impress a senior manager during a ride in a lift.

There is 'pig in the python', an expression used to describe the demographic bulge caused by the baby boom in 1945-65. Marketers find this lot an attractive but difficult target, which may explain the less than complimentary imagery. This is, however, an improvement on the acronym used for this group in the 1990s: Dumpies, short for Destitute, Unprepared, Mature People.

Even the new tech-related words relate to trouble. Caught any 'shoulder-surfer' lately? That will be someone trying to peer over your shoulder as you enter your password on your computer or your PIN at the ATM.

In the end, it is left to Paris Hilton and Bikram Choudhury to bring us some cheer. Hilton is not in the dictionary yet, but there is a word to describe someone who sounds very much like her — a 'celebutante', a person who is rich and famous, and famous only for being famous.

Of course, it helps Hilton's fame that she has an aerobicised (meaning a body part toned by aerobics) bahookie (backside), maintained, it is said, by yoga — though not the Bikram yoga, which also enters the Concise Oxford Dictionary this year.

First Published: Aug 18, 2006 03:31 IST