In its last update, the Oxford English Dictionary included several initialisms – or abbreviations that are made up of the first letter in a series of words and spoken like a word – to its online dictionary. Included in this update are the initialisms LOL, OMG and Wag (that’s Laugh Out Loud, Oh My Gosh and Wives and Girlfriends, usually of athletes). Some of you might be saying, Wait aren’t those just acronyms? Well, yes and no. Technically an acronym is just an initialism that is sounded out letter by letter, like FBI or CEO. An initialism is spoken as if it were a plain word, like Wag or Scuba.
Much like we did when we first read this, some of you out there may be bemoaning the fall of the English language. If we start accepting words created by the Twitterati to limbo under the 140-character limit then where will it stop? Will we soon see words like “strategery” and “refudiate” ushered in to the hallowed pages of the Oxford English Dictionary? The OED doesn’t seem to think so.
The OED has a certain criteria for admitting words to the dictionary. Some of the criteria include how long the word has been around, independent instance of the word being used and a general level of social understanding of the word.
So, for example, if we take the acronym LOL and hold it up to the test. It has been around for a decent amount of time (the OED cites that LOL goes back as far as 1960 to refer to a Little Old Lady), the word gets used all the time by media outlets and individuals and everyone knows exactly what it means. According to these criteria LOL deserves to be included in the OED.
What do you think? Do words like LOL, OMG or Wag deserve to be included in the official tome of the English language? Sound off in our comment section below.