Linguistics

Take our word of the year quiz!

Christina Cabal

How well have you kept up with new vocabulary this year? As 2017 draws to a close, Christina Cabal tests your knowledge with this fun quiz on the new terms beginning to enter the English language.

Do you sometimes feel that you cannot keep up with the number of words entering the English language? Well, join the club! About 1,000 words are added to dictionaries every year and rumour has it that a new word is invented every 2 hours. Yet, not all of them make it in to the dictionary… So, how does it work?

Who decides which words get added?

So, how does a word get into the dictionary? Simply put – people need to use them. Lexicographers watch the word for several years to see how it is used in both spoken and written English. They check to see that the word is used to express an idea clearly, and that the idea is understood. Then, when the word is seen in writing and speech regularly, it can enter the dictionary. However, if lexicographers think that a word might be a passing fad, they will keep a record of it and watch its evolution.

Let’s take the word ‘selfie‘. Nowadays everybody – even my great grandmother – knows what a selfie is, but would you believe me if I told you that about 6 years ago I wrote the word ‘selfie‘ on the board and none of my students knew what it meant?

Test your knowledge!

In this little quiz, you’ll see some new words currently being tracked by lexicographers, either in written or spoken form. Whether they will make it into the dictionary is a mystery right now, but what is clear is that they are being used by a large community nowadays and deserve to be considered as worthy candidates!


How did you do? If you’re in the quizzing mood, test how well you can spot the difference between British and American English.


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