What is twerking? Now you can look it up

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
The world got an up-close and personal definition of twerking from Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at Sunday’s MTV VMAs.

What is twerking? Look it up — it’s in the dictionary.

Twerk, a provocative dance move, and selfie, a photograph taken of oneself using a smartphone, are two new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary on Wednesday.

The dictionary has included words such as twerk, selfie, digital detox and the social media meaning of unlike in its latest quarterly update to reflect the increasing use of technology and social media.

Spokeswoman Katherine Connor Martin said the dictionary, which is one of the largest dictionaries in the world and dates back 150 years, adds about 1,000 new entries to its online version every year.

She said the word twerk has been around for 20 years but has generated enough evidence of usage to be added to its online dictionaries with U.S. pop star Miley Cyrus hitting headlines this week for twerking at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Arising in the early 1990s, the word is described in the dictionary as “a dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance,”

“The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker’s song, ‘The Twist,’” said Connor Martin.

“Only time will tell if twerking will similarly be embraced by the general public.”

Other words such as unlike, the withdrawal of approval on social media, digital detox, where a person refrains from using smartphones or computers, and fomo (fear of missing out), anxiety that an interesting event may be happening elsewhere, have also been added.

Omnishambles, a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged, characterized by a string of blunders and miscalculations is also among the new entries, originating from the British political comedy TV series “The Thick of It.”


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