Hip Hop Slang Among Latest Additions to The Oxford English Dictionary

When the members of the Philological Society of London began the project they called A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles in 1857, they appealed to the English-speaking public for help in identifying the earliest usage of new words. Today that book is known as the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary, and Oxford lexicographers continue to cite new usage from a variety of sources-including rap songs by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, McDonald’s commercials, and Rolling Stone. On December 9, 2004 a new sense of the noun “Benjamin” became one of more than 2,000 new and revised entries that were added to the online edition of The Oxford English Dictionary (http://www.OED.com). The new entry, which features illustrative quotations from The New Yorker and GQ Magazine as well as the song One More Chance, written by Sean Combs and performed by The Notorious
B.I.G.:

Benjamin, n.(4)
U.S. slang.

A one-hundred-dollar bill. Also more generally (in pl.): large sums of money.

“For most of the last century, African-American vernacular has been the driving force in American slang,” explains Jesse Sheidlower, Principal North American Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. “We put in words that have currency. If the word is slang, it doesn’t matter. If that word is being used, our responsibility is to put it in.” This is reflected in the new entries for such informal or slang terms as crack ho, hoochie, fanfic, po’ boy, beat down, hairy eyeball, and Joe Schmo.

Users of The Oxford English Dictionary Online may rest assured that it is free from spyware (“software that enables information to be gathered covertly about a person’s computer activities, passwords”), although that definition has been added in this latest quarterly update.

A complete list of the new words and their definitions is available online at http://www.oed.com/help/updates/latest-additions.html

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