Jessica Leigh Hester is a former senior associate editor at CityLab, covering environment and culture. Her work also appears in the New Yorker, The Atlantic, New York Times, Modern Farmer, Village Voice, Slate, BBC, NPR, and other outlets.
It’s no longer just a subway horror.
Manspreading—the act of occupying a gratuitous amount of precious subway real estate by sprawling one’s legs—is an etiquette faux pas. But the term has gotten the seal of the approval from the Oxford English Dictionary.
The Guardian reported that the slang would be confined to the OED’s digital edition for the time being. The selection process works like this:
New words, senses, and phrases are added to oxforddictionaries.com once editors have gathered enough independent evidence to be confident they have widespread currency in English, but they do not gain entry into the Oxford English Dictionary unless continued historical use can be shown.
Plenty of other dubious words—including “hangry,” “NBD,” and everyone’s favorite time, “wine o’clock”—also made the cut. R.L. Stein, fabricator of childhood nightmares, was surprised by some of the choices:
Does this signal the death knell of the English language? Fiona McPherson, senior editor of the OED, doesn’t think so. She told BBC News:
“There's always been new slang words. I just think we are more aware of them because of the ways in which we consume and live our lives now.”
She explained that the slang words embodied a “creative” use of the written word. Just wait until the poop emoji gets its own entry.