New English words announced – but there’s still one missing!


I found out yesterday, courtesy of a fellow blogger Emily Hawker, that The Oxford English Dictionary announced the inclusion of an additional thousand words to its next edition. That sparked my interest (yes, it was a prime opportunity for distraction) and I scrolled through the list. You can, too, if you click on the link above.

I found that:

  • Some of them I knew:

Glamping‘ for instance – ok, fine

  • Some I thought would have already been included:

    has only just made the list.

    Really? (although maybe that’s a cue for a gag about the quality and creative lacking in english cooking. Ha, ha.)

  • Some were quite delightful:

    Dowfart‘ – apparently an old scottish word meaning someone who feels ‘heavy, inactive, and totally lacking animation‘.

    (This is one of those times when I totally reclaim my scottish ancestry because that IS a good word, don’t you think?)

  • Some I thought were a BIT of a stretch:

    Sophie’s Choice‘ – really??

    I don’t think that’s a word, for one thing (but two) but more importantly, it’s a concept rather than a word – an impossibly difficult and no win choice, based on the title of a book released nearly forty years ago (or a movie, if you prefer, not long afterwards).


And yes, I acknowledge that maybe I was nitpicking. There are words I like in the list, words I am more dubious about, and words I have no idea about (because the dictionary hasn’t come out for me to check what they mean). But English is an evolving, living language and I am not the arbiter of what should be in it. 

However, I would have loved one particular word to be included.

I knew it was unlikely. It is a word that has puzzled us for the past ten years or so, since our son first used it. I knew it probably hasn’t been used outside our family. However, as the Oxford English Dictionary’s tag line is ‘The definitive record of the English language‘, I thought, ‘well, maybe …”

Taking a step back – For those with kids, you’ve probably gone through stages where your children use words that you don’t recognise. And that’s because they are getting mixed up, or making up words (which is great – as long as they are not frustrated when you don’t know what they mean). But, over time, you usually work out what they mean. 

But not always.

We have one word which we never, EVER, managed to work out. Our son would point to things, or use it in conversations, and we would try, supply him with new options, but – no. Never got to the bottom of it. He could never explain it, and it didn’t really bother him that we didn’t know what it meant, so he was quite happy to use it freely. Now he has no idea what it means either (and considering he’s now eleven, it’s unlikely he will remember words from his past).

It doesn’t really matter, either, but the thing is – it was a good word, too (well, it sounded good – if we knew what it meant). And we still use it today, but not for its proper use (in the way he used it). We now use it as a word meaning ‘a substitute word when I don’t know the correct word’.

So – in the unlikely hope that someone might now, does anyone know what this means?

Shrept. (n) – as in ‘Where is the shrept’? 

If you know, please let me know – I’l be ever so grateful!




Do you have favourite words, or words from the past, or words your kids used, which appealed to you? Please share – we can always use some more diversity (especially if you can explain ‘the shrept’!)


18 thoughts on “New English words announced – but there’s still one missing!

    1. Speaking on behalf of Sam … you most certainly can! It’s the vibe, it’s the serenity, it’s the je ne sais quio, it’s the shrept (it’s very handy 🙂 )


  1. I agree, Sophie’s Choice is not a word – it’s an expression, or like you say, a concept. And shrept – well, I don’t know why they left that off, what an excellent and useful word to have available!


    1. It’s incredibly handy (and it just sounds good – it can be forceful, or gentle. It’s whatever you want it to be – it’s ‘the shrept’). So happy that, at around 18 months, Sam came up with it!


  2. LOVE ‘dowfart’ – feel like I will have to start using that one now, or maybe work it into a bit of dialogue one day. I also really want to know the meaning of ‘shrept’. My first thought was a kind of insect or creepy-crawly – ‘look, there’s the shrept!’ (runs in terror from a humongous spider/beetle/etc) – it’s the kind of thing a child might latch onto? Or an imaginary friend? Either way, a lovely family word-mystery. And I often say ‘it’s a bit of a Sophie’s Choice’ but agree it’s a concept not a word. Must check out the rest of OED list! x


    1. Thanks Rebecca – you are a word lover too, of course! I don’t think the shrept implied anything scary – he used to use it quite conversationally, almost expecting us to nod and agree (which, of course, we did, because, yes, clearly it was the shrept – whatever that meant!) Btw – I think I’ve given you my word for this week in ‘dowfart’ – following up from ‘stiletto’ – I loved your newsletter, and the creativity that a word gives you 🙂 The only problem with dowfart is that it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as ‘the shrept’ – maybe we need to give dowfart more of a chance! x


    1. Maybe it’s already included? – I know they have Bae (shudder). They haven’t included ‘squad’ either, or my kids’ current favourite, ‘dab’ (with corresponding gesture). You’re right – if it’s not there yet, it’s bound to be soon …


  3. I’m feeling particularly dowfart today. My personal favourite new word was ‘lumbersexual’ – you know, the hipster man who dresses like a lumberjack to go out for a deconstructed coffee with smashed avo on glutenfree sourdough.


    1. Ah yes. We have a couple of friends who have fallen into that by default – landscapers or tradies of some sort, but with particular food preferences (and liking the good things in life too). They’ve been a bit mortified to find out their work outfit, and the fact they don’t shave for a few days has been taken over by hipsters (but as we’ve said, if you must have your gluten free, all organic ingredient gourmet meals, well …)


  4. Shrept sounds so much better than what’sit-thing! Yes I’ve got Scottish heritage too and am excited by the possibilities of dowfart! In fact it would describe my father perfectly, the old dowfart!
    A number of sayings have stuck around from my kid’s mispronunciations… ‘brekdas’ – obviously breakfast! and ‘No wicking!’ which my son used to say to our dogs to stop them licking him in the face… I still say ‘No wicking!’ every now and then coz it’s so funny. (-8


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