#Twictionary: Collins turns to Twitter in search of new words

The Collins English Dictionary has taken to Twitter to find new words for its next edition, and is asking users to choose words to make the final edition.

The shortlist of words includes fracktivist — which refers to someone who protests against fracking — and felfie — a farmer who takes a selfie.

The 12th edition of the dictionary will be the first to contain a word that has been voted for by Twitter users.

Until midnight on May 28, Twitter users can vote for the new word that will go straight into the next edition of the dictionary, to be released in October.

The publisher says the rise of social media has seen new words and ideas — that they scout for every year — go mainstream much quicker than in the past.

Andrew Freeman, associate publisher at Collins, said: “Twitter offers us an immediate snapshot of how much a word is used. The tried and tested approach to compiling dictionaries has to adapt to embrace the ways in which language is developing through use on social media, and this is a fun way to get Twitter users involved in defining the language.”

Collins has been publishing the dictionary since 1819 and is the largest single volume dictionary in print, with its words sourced from the Collins Corpus, which contains more than 4.5bn words, as well as the open- source site collinsdictionary.com, where users can submit words for consideration.

The new process, which has its own website where Twitter users can vote, looks to take advantage of the freedom of Twitter when it comes to the written word.

Lucy Mangan, a blogger for collinsdictionary.com and a contributor to the Collins English Dictionary, wrote: “Twitter is the perfect place to find out what people are really saying and how they’re saying it. It’s a space in which you’re freer than almost anywhere else to combine old words, resurrect others or invent totally new ones whenever the need arises. #brilliant.”

According to language experts, the list is a sign of the way language is changing in the 21st century.

Ian Brookes, lexicographer and consultant editor to the Collins English Dictionary, said: “Language has always had to develop in response to changes in society and technology. In the 20th century, the development of the motor car, air travel, television, and the personal computer changed the things that people did and so brought many new words into the language. In the 21st century, the growth of social media has had a comparable effect.”

Twitter users can vote for their choice at twictionary.collinsdictionary.com.

Adorkable candidates

Here are the candidate words, along with their official definition.

* Adorkable: Dorky in an adorable way;

* Fatberg: A large mass of solid waste, grease, etc, clogging a sewerage system;

* Felfie: A farmer selfie;

* Gaybourhood: A gay-friendly neighbourhood such as Castro in San Francisco;

* Nomakeupselfie: A selfie of a woman without make-up, posted online to raise awareness for a charity;

* Vaguebooking: Posting a deliberately vague status updates on social media to prompt a response;

* Duckface: The traditional pouting facial expression in selfies;

* Fracktivist: An activist against fracking;

* Euromaiden: The original pro-Europe protests in Ukraine, named for Maidan Square in Kiev.

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