necial to Nipissing
September 11, 2003 12:13 PM   Subscribe

New Words! New Words! The OED's quarterly update is up. You can now officially use: 800 number, anime, first person, incentivize, ish, JPEG, Klingon, Kwanzaa and xeriscape, plus a whole mess of words between "necial to Nipissing."
posted by jengod (31 comments total)
posted by ZachsMind at 12:36 PM on September 11, 2003

I know the dictionary is descriptive (as opposed to prescriptive); nevertheless, if I were the gatekeeper and were feeling judgemental, I would ixnay "negatory," "negrofied," and 80% of the "neo-" words.

(As you can see, I've only skimmed the ne-, that's one Brobdingnagian list of words!)
posted by kozad at 12:48 PM on September 11, 2003

If incentivize is now a word, I'm going to need a few moments to myself for the purpose of quiet sobbing.

I mean, come on. If you need a stupid made-up synonym for "encourage," wasn't "incent" good enough? What's next: "incentivizoscitate"?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:59 PM on September 11, 2003

it's a word because people say it.

feel free not to.
posted by kjh at 1:14 PM on September 11, 2003

I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have someone telling me what new words the OED has adopted every three months here on metafilter.

My life would be a bereft and soulless shell, instead of the vibrant blossom that it is.
posted by crunchland at 1:17 PM on September 11, 2003

Language is dynamic. Once a word is commonly used, it doesn't really matter how wrong, redundant or stupid it is -- it's a word.
posted by linux at 1:17 PM on September 11, 2003

P.S. - nekkid, a.
posted by linux at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2003

incentivizoscitate: it's a perfect cromulent word.
posted by Celery at 1:28 PM on September 11, 2003

posted by jengod at 1:35 PM on September 11, 2003

kozad: What's wrong with "negatory"? It seems to have a perfectly reputable history:

negatory, a.

Of the nature of, or expressing, negation; (more generally) negative.
  1580 C. DESAINLIENS Treasurie French Tong, Negatoire, vne action negatoire, a negatorie action. 1656 T. BLOUNT Glossographia, Negatory, of or belonging to denial, inficiatory, Negative. [Hence in Phillips and Bailey.] 1827 T. CARLYLE German Romance III. 86, I on the morrow must overcloud her arrival.. by my negatory intelligence. 1850 THACKERAY Let. in Westm. Gaz. (1902) 10 July 4/3 A negatory nod of his honest..old head. 1877 J. MORLEY Crit. Misc. 2nd Ser. 362 Mere aggressive and negatory criticism. 1933 Polit. Sci. Q. 48 324 The negatory powers of government were just strong enough to frustrate the creative zeal which the situation required. 1977 J. P. DONLEAVY Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman (1990) ii. 8 Please do not Kildare, be miserably negatory. 1994 Details Sept. 217/1 Koshin is expected to play the yang to Kido's yin: the external, negatory, butt-kicking component of the cosmos.

May I say that I feel quite incentivizoscitated by this thread, and by kjh's and linux's admirable attitudes toward language change.
posted by languagehat at 1:38 PM on September 11, 2003

I'm really confused by the OED's recent tendency to do this kind of thing. I generally fall on the "usage" side of the lexicography wars, but I always thought of the OED as the stalwart opposite.
posted by scarabic at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2003

Is "cromulent" in there yet?
posted by signal at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2003

Speaking of new words, what's the story behind the word asshat?
posted by starscream at 1:52 PM on September 11, 2003

kjh's and linux's admirable attitudes toward language change

I'm not saying incentivize shouldn't be a word, or that language shouldn't change. I'm lamenting evolution in the direction of words made up by sales managers for whom existing words fall short for lack of enough syllables, or something.

You apparently feel all words are of precisely equal worth, as if they are humans; you are in fact wrong. Some are bad and should be banished from the community.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:02 PM on September 11, 2003

The OED has yet to offer its thoughts on asshat, but there's always the necessary preface to an asshat, an asshead:

[See ASS n.1 2 and HEAD.]

A stupid fellow, a blockhead.

1550 BALE Apol. 61 O absolute ass-heade..and wytlesse ydyote. 1589 Hay any Work 36 As verye an Assehead as John Catercap. 1601 SHAKES. Twel. N. V. i. 212 An Asse~head, and a coxcombe.
posted by jengod at 2:04 PM on September 11, 2003

I'm really confused by the OED's recent tendency to do this kind of thing. I generally fall on the "usage" side of the lexicography wars, but I always thought of the OED as the stalwart opposite.

"The two principal aims of [the dictionary] were to record every word that could be found in English from about the year 1000 and to exhibit the history of each--its forms, various spellings, and all its uses and meanings, past and present. The last-named feature was especially to be shown by a full selection of quotations from the whole range of English writings" (Baugh and Cable, "A History of the English Language," fifth edition, page 341, emphasis mine).

"The completed work [of 1928] fills ten large volumes, occupies 15,487 pages, and treats 240,165 main words. In 1933 a supplementary volume was published, containing additions and corrections accumulated during the forty-four years over which the publication of the original work extended. A four-volume supplement that absorbed the 1922 supplement was published ... between 1972 and 1987. A second edition ... in 1989 amalgamated [all of these] and approximately 5,000 new words, or new senses of existing words, in twenty volumes. The second edition contains about 290,500 main entries, or about 38,000 more than the first edition with its 1933 supplement. ... In preparation for the third edition, Oxford University Press is publishing supplements to the entries of the second edition and completely new entries.... Three volumes were published beterrn 1993 and 1997. ... [The dictionary] has profoundly influenced the attitude of many people toward language, and toward the English language in particular. By exhibiting the history of words and idioms, their forms and various spellings, their changes of meaning, the way words rise and fall in the levels of usage, and many other phenomena, it has increased our linguistic perspective and taught us to view many questions of language in a more scientific and less dogmatic way" (Baugh and Cable, 343-344).
posted by kjh at 2:15 PM on September 11, 2003

Baugh and Cable are wytlesse ydyotes.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:17 PM on September 11, 2003

If cromulent isn't in the OED, then we need to mobilize and get it in there.

...mind you, anyone that uses "incentivize" in a non-ironic fashion should be strung up from a nearby lamppost.
posted by aramaic at 2:21 PM on September 11, 2003

Um, I apologize for posting immediately after myself, but it seems like this might be a good opportunity to mention Cromulac, the generator of perfectly cromulent words.
posted by aramaic at 2:24 PM on September 11, 2003

They have neo-hippie, and neo-liberal, but not neo-con? Obvious lefty bias!
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:30 PM on September 11, 2003

languagehat: thanks; I was unaware of the cosmopolitan provenance of the word "negatory."

When I hear the word "negatory," though, I think of an intolerant fat-necked officious cop with an attitude.

Where did I get that? Smokey the Bear movies or something? I dunno.
posted by kozad at 2:37 PM on September 11, 2003

thanks, kjh

I don't see anything in there, though, that clearly aligns their mission as descriptive. "Every word found" doesn't help much. All dictionaries claim to be on that mission. Every word written? Spoken? Are they setting out to be a comprehensive slang dictionary? I wonder if their alignment has changed over time... I doubt they were doing slang stuff in the 30s and 40s. Were they?
posted by scarabic at 5:25 PM on September 11, 2003

Yes, they were. But they've gotten more comprehensive about it as sources have gotten better and editors hipper.
posted by languagehat at 6:59 PM on September 11, 2003

I cringe every time I read "ish". Is issue so many syllables? Is "ish" so cool? NO! and NO! Damned BoingBoing. Drives me crazy.
posted by mblandi at 8:37 PM on September 11, 2003

Why incentivize but not incentivise?
posted by biffa at 3:13 AM on September 12, 2003

Probably because the word was invented by *blush* Americans.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:21 AM on September 12, 2003

They give both spellings:
Forms: 19- incentivise, incentivize
The primary entry is under the -ize form, as it is for all such verbs and has been from the start. (And by the way, the first use of "incentivize" is from the Guardian, so don't blame us Yanks: 1968 Guardian 10 June 7/6 You have got to appeal to people's greed. The most successful station operators incentivise their forecourt staff.) The explanation is given the OED entry on -ize (I've put the relevant part in bold, but I'm including the whole first part of the entry for its intrinsic interest):

(also written -ise), 

    suffix forming vbs. = F. -ise-r, It. -izare, Sp. -izar, ad. late L. -izare [long a], -izare [long i, a], f. Gr. -izein, formative derivative of vbs.
  The Greek verbs were partly intrans., as barbarizein to play the barbarian, act or speak as a barbarian, side with the barbarians, tyrannizein to side with the tyrants, partly trans. as katharizein to purify, clean, thesaurizein to treasure up. Those formed on national, sectarian, or personal names were primarily intransitive, as Attikizein to Atticize in manners, to speak Attic, Philippizein to act or speak for Philip, to philippize, Hellenizein to ‘do’ the Greek, act as a Greek, speak Greek, Hellenize; also, to make Greek. A few words of this form connected with or used in early Christianity, were latinized already in the 3rd or 4th c. by Christian writers: such were baptizein baptizare, euangelizein euangelizare, katekhizein catechizare, khristianizein christianizare, ioudaizein iudaizare. Others continued to be formed both in ecclesiastical and philosophical use, e.g. canonizare, dæmonizare, syllogizare (Boethius Aristot. Anal.); and this became established as the normal form for the latinizing of Greek verbs, or the formation of verbs upon Greek analogies. In med.L. and the mod. langs. these have been formed also on L. or modern national names, and the use has been extended to the formation of verbs from L. adjs. or ns. This practice prob. began first in French; in mod.F. the suffix has become -iser, alike in words from Greek, as baptiser, évangéliser, organiser, and those formed after them from L., as civiliser, cicatriser, humaniser. Hence, some have used the spelling -ise in Eng., as in French, for all these words, and some prefer -ise in words formed in French or Eng. from L. elements, retaining -ize for those of Gr. composition. But the suffix itself, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Gr. -izein, L. -izare; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic. In this Dictionary the termination is uniformly written -ize. (In the Gr. -iz-, the i was short, so originally in L., but the double consonant z (= dz, ts) made the syllable long; when the z became a simple consonant, (-idz) became iz [long i], whence Eng. (-aiz).)
  In current English the following groups may be noted:

    1. Words that have come down from Greek, or have been at some time adopted from Greek, or formed on Greek elements;    a. with the trans. sense of ‘make or conform to, or treat in the way of, the thing expressed by the derivation’, as baptize (prob. the earliest -ize word in Eng.), anathematize, anatomize, apostrophize, canonize, catechize, cauterize, characterize, christianize, crystallize, diphthongize, harmonize, idolize, monopolize, organize, phlebotomize, stigmatize, symbolize, systematize, tantalize;    b. with the intrans. sense ‘to act some person or character, do or follow some practice’, as agonize, apologize, apostatize, botanize, dogmatize, geologize, philosophize, syllogize, sympathize, theorize.

    2. Words formed (in Fr. or Eng.) on Latin adjs. and ns. (esp. on derivative adjs. in -al, -ar, -an, etc.), mostly with the trans. sense ‘to make (that which is expressed by the derivation)’, as actualize, authorize, brutalize, civilize, colonize, consonantize, devocalize, eternize, etherealize, familiarize, fertilize, formalize, fossilize, humanize, immortalize, legalize, memorize, nationalize, naturalize, neutralize, patronize, pulverize, realize, satirize, scrutinize, secularize, signalize, solemnize, spiritualize, sterilize, terrorize, vocalize; trans. or intrans., as cicatrize, extemporize, moralize, particularize; less frequently only intrans., as temporize.

    3. Words from later sources, as bastardize, foreignize, jeopardize, villanize, womanize trans., gormandize, and such nonce-words as cricketize, pedestrianize, tandemize, intr.

    4. Words formed on ethnic adjs., and the like, chiefly trans. but sometimes intrans., as Americanize, Anglicize, Gallicize, Germanize, Latinize, Romanize, Russianize.

    5. Words formed on names of persons, sometimes with the intrans. Greek sense of ‘to act like, or in accordance with’, as in Calvinize, Coryatize, but usually in the trans. sense of ‘to treat like, or after the method of, or according to the (chemical or other) process of’; as in Boucherize, Bowdlerize, Burnettize, galvanize, Grangerize, macadamize, mesmerize, Rumfordize; with many technical and commercial terms, and nonce-words such as Gladstonize, Irvingize, Joe Millerize, Merry-Andrewize, without limit.

    6. From names of substances, chemical and other; in the trans. sense of ‘to charge, impregnate, treat, affect, or influence with’; as alcoholize, alkalize, carbonize, de-oxidize, hydrogenize, oxidize, ozonize, silverize, etc.; so in nonce-words, as Londonize to make like London, etc.
posted by languagehat at 7:18 AM on September 12, 2003

You apparently feel all words are of precisely equal worth, as if they are humans; you are in fact wrong.

Indeed. Words have no inherent worth at all. They are neither good nor bad; they simply are.
posted by kindall at 10:30 AM on September 12, 2003

Thanks for the in-depth reply languagehat, I was aware of the US/French history over the use of -ize/-ise and wondered why only -ize was on the FPP'ed list, especially as its a British dictionary. Happily I've just discovered that I have OED access again so can look this stuff up myself in future.

I'm all for incentivise, and use it on a daily basis. I have to admit that up until this thread I had not realised that incent did pretty much the same job, which I'm somewhat embarrassed by as I can be a bit of a snob about these things. My only defence is that no-one I said it too professionally would understand what I was talking about.
posted by biffa at 5:13 AM on September 15, 2003

biffa: You're welcome!

My only defence is that no-one I said it too professionally would understand what I was talking about.

And being understood is sort of the point of language. I've never heard of a verb "incent," so I think it's safe to assume it's not part of the active vocabulary of the English language. It's OK to be a snob insofar as it means looking for the most elegant or appropriate way to say something rather than taking the lazy way out, but get off the train before it vanishes into the highlands of "words normal people have never heard of or use in entirely different ways"!
posted by languagehat at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2003

Just got round to checking incent in the OED and it is actually predated by incentivise, so stupidsexyFlanders was wrong all along, and bolox to whoever told me off for using incentivise in another thread last month too.
posted by biffa at 8:11 AM on September 15, 2003

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