Just months after adding “Scooby Snack” to its hallowed pages, the Oxford English Dictionary has released its latest update. Among the 500-plus new terms gaining entrance: “clickbait,” “kegerator,” “vom,” “YOLO,” and “Yoda.” The list also included tributes to author Roald Dahl, born 100 years ago this month.
The Dahl words include terms coined by the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and others—like “scrumdiddlyumptious” and “Oompa Loompa”—and inspired by him as well, as in “Dahlesque.” The OED also updated several of its reference points to words that Dahl used prominently in his works, including today’s word of the day: “gremlin,” a memorable choice for the former fighter pilot, as the OED’s Jonathan Dent explains in a blog post:
Revised entries in this range include those for words which many of us encountered for the first time in his books for children (such as the adjectives frightsome, scrummy, scrumptious, and splendiferous, and splendiferousness). The entry for gremlin has received careful attention from the OED‘s researchers, editors, and etymologists, none of whom (following the instructions in Joe Dante’s 1984 film about a very specific later incarnation of these creations) got the entry wet, exposed it to bright light, or added any quotations to it after midnight. The Gremlins, published in 1943, was Dahl’s first children’s book, and he sometimes claimed to have invented this name for meddlesome imps imagined as a cause of technical and other problems for aeroplanes. Our newly revised entry traces the origins of this mysterious word back to 1929 and its use as RAF slang to mean ‘a lowly or despised person; a menial, a dogsbody, a wretch’, while our earliest evidence for use referring to the destructive sprites so feared by Second World War pilots dates from 1938.
As for Yoda ... there was no explanation given, though the definition is “a person who embodies the characteristics of Yoda, esp. in being wise; an elder, sage or guru.” (No reference to Jedi mind tricks, alas.) The adjective “Yoda-like” was also added.