The Oxford English Dictionary is getting political in its latest update, with “woke” and “post-truth” now included.
The original meaning of woke is to awaken after sleep but the word now has other social connotations.
“By the mid-20th century,” says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), “woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being ‘aware’ or ‘well informed’ in a political or cultural sense.”
Post-truth was 2016’s word of the year.
It is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping political debate or public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
These words are especially linked to recent events in the US, such as the last presidential campaign and issues around race and police shootings.
“In the past decade, that meaning [of woke] has been catapulted into mainstream use with a particular nuance of ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’, popularised through the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, in which the words ‘I stay woke’ serve as a refrain, and more recently through its association with the Black Lives Matter movement, especially on social media,” says the OED.
Following this update, there is now a new word at the end of the dictionary.
Until now, the last alphabetic entry was zythum, a kind of malt beer brewed in ancient Egypt.
Now the list concludes with Zyzzyva, a tropical weevil native to South American which is usually found on or near palm trees.
Hygge has also made it into the OED.
It refers to the recent trend around Danish culture for simple pleasures such as food and warmth and friends creating a feeling of comfort and cosiness.
The OED publishes four updates a year. The next update will be added to the dictionary in September 2017.