LOL, OMG, ♥, and FYI Added to Oxford English Dictionary LOL, OMG, ♥, and FYI Added to Oxford English Dictionary
Education

LOL, OMG, ♥, and FYI Added to Oxford English Dictionary

by Liz Dwyer

March 29, 2011


Teachers, get ready to weep. The latest update of the "definitive record of the English language", the Oxford English Dictionary, has some new additions that texting teenagers will be happy about. LOL, OMG, ♥, and FYI are now official initialisms—"abbreviations consisting of the initial letters of a name or expression."

Whether or not you agree with the decision to add them, what is interesting is the way the OED documents the history of words and the way our use of language changes. The dictionary says the first use of OMG comes from a personal letter from 1917. And, note their entry for

♥ to heart

The new sense added to heart v. in this update may be the first English usage to develop via the medium of T-shirts and bumper-stickers. It originated as a humorous reference to logos featuring a picture of a heart as a symbol for the verb love, like that of the famous ‘I ♥ NY’ tourism campaign. Our earliest quote for this use, from 1984, uses the verb in ‘I heart my dog’s head’, a jokey play on bumper stickers featuring a heart and a picture of the face of a particular breed of dog (expressing a person’s enthusiasm for, say, shih-tzus) which itself became a popular bumper sticker.  From these beginnings, heart v. has gone on to live an existence in more traditional genres of literature as a colloquial synonym for ‘to love’.

Now that these initialisms have the OED's stamp of approval, student papers and other assignments will probably start including them even more, as in, "OMG, Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shew had me LOL'ing!" And if you're wondering about the status of IMHO and BFF, it turns out they're already in the OED. (Should we should expect LMAO to make the cut next?)

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LOL, OMG, ♥, and FYI Added to Oxford English Dictionary