When was the last time you looked at the IT guy in your office and thought: He is so adorkable I could just hug him to death?
And have you ever deliberately posted a vague status update on your social media account just to prompt a response? Did you know that you were vaguebooking?
Lexicographers—writers and compilers of dictionaries—at Collins English Dictionary are using TwitterTWTR -3.24% as a research tool to help uncover new and emerging words on the Internet, to study their usage, and measure their popularity.
Collins on Monday launched Twictionary, a dedicated account encouraging Twitter users, also known as Tweeps, to vote on which words should be included in the next edition of the dictionary.
Ian Brookes, Lexicographer and Consultant Editor to the Collins English Dictionary, said Collins was asking Twitter users to vote on words that had been submitted via its website.
The use of words like dorkable, vaguebooking, gaybourhood (a gay-friendly neighborhood, and if you didn’t know that you might be a gaynorant, who, according to urbandictionary.com is someone who stereotypes homosexuals), and duckface—the traditional ‘pouting’ facial expression in selfies (photos people take of themselves on mobile devices)—are growing in use on on Twitter, Collins said.
The winning word will be announced in June, and go into the new print edition of The Collins English Dictionary coming out in October 2014.
Collins said it has no commercial arrangement with Twitter, and was working with it because it offers open, accessible public data to monitor through its applications interface.
“Twitter is a news site with robust patterns of usage and reactions to events and growing movements which lend themselves to language development and invention,” the company told The Wall Street Journal.
“Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per message puts a focus on language, meaning users have to come up with new words and language to make the most of the platform. This is the first activity of its kind – using social media to compile dictionary entries – and we would be keen to work with a range of social media channels in the future,” the company said
But Collins could be behind the curve. Urbandictionary.com is already fast becoming the repository of words being used extensively on social media.
At the top of urbandictionary.com today are Snelfie: when you take a picture of yourself using your smartphone while sneezing; and brotherzone the place where jilted men go after they ‘die’ in the ‘friendzone’— a place where a woman puts a man she is not attracted to, treating him instead as a brother.