The Oxford English Dictionary has recently recognised a number of new words. These words range from everyday slang, such as ‘awesomesauce’ (meaning extremely good, or excellent) to slang with a more political resonance (‘Brexit’ and ‘Grexit’, referring to Britain’s hypothetical exit from the EU and Greek’s potential exit from the Eurozone respectively) to a new title ‘Mx’ which can be used instead of ‘Mr’ or ‘Ms’ to avoid specifying gender.  

Some have suggested that the increase of slang words in the dictionary demonstrates a ‘dumbing down’ of our language. However, students of Languages and Linguistics should consider Fiona McPherson’s, senior editor of Oxford Dictionaries, belief that it shows more creative ways that people are using language.

Words can be added to the Oxford Dictionary online if editors are certain of their widespread use in English. However, they only make it into the Oxford English Dictionary if continued historical use is shown. History applicants could consider the way in which language has changed historically, and words and phrases that have demonstrated such historical use. HSPS students could consider how modern society and the widespread use of internet may mean that slang is more prominent and widespread, and also the significance of the introduction of more gender neutral words.

Students wanting to apply for PPE should consider the power of language as a political tool, but also as a means of satirising politics and how this effects our perception of political figures and situations.

More Resources