Tweet catches on in the OED

The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED...

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the premier British dictionary of the English language – or, as its tag line states, “the definitive record of the English language” – adds new words from time to time, as well as evolved meanings to current words, that reflect contemporary usage.

They have strict rules on such additions such as a new word being current for ten years before it’s considered for inclusion in the dictionary.

In an announcement this week about recent words updates, chief editor John Simpson notes an exception in the case of the word “tweet”:

The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED. This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for ten years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on.

So the OED now shows the additional meanings of “tweet” thus:

a. intr. To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter. Also: to use Twitter regularly or habitually. Cf. tweet n. 2.

b. trans. To post (a message, item of information, etc.) on Twitter. Also: to post a message to (a particular person, organization, etc.). Cf. tweet n. 2.

I think it’s a sensible decision to evolve the dictionary definition, precisely for the reason Simpson mentioned. It certainly is catching on.

Now imagine my huge surprise when I see that one of the sources of information cited by the OED that I imagine contributed to their decision to add the new meanings is a link to a post I wrote in March 2007 (I’ve highlighted the text in yellow):


The post in question is this one I published on March 15, 2007; the cited text is this:

[…] not much chance to tweet on Twitter, especially since it seems that SMS posting from my mobile phone doesn’t work […]

You saw “tweet” used as a verb here first, folks! ;)

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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