Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK


Ee bah gum, it's in t' dictionary

Our Vera would be proud. Coronation Street helped "Ee" into the dictionary.

By 'eck! Them daft 'apeths at t'Oxford Dictionary have gone all northern.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet: "To really get to grips with the new phrases, you'd have to study it twenty four - seven"
Or put another way, the north of England exclamation "Ee!" - indicating surprise or dismay - has been officially recognised by that arbiter of correct English, the Oxford Dictionary.

Fitting in snuggly between Edwardian and EEC, the phrase - most usually associated with cartoon strip hero Andy Capp and Manchester soap Coronation Street - is defined as a "northern English form of Oh!".

The new version of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (COD) also finds room for the southern, attention-grabbing exclamation "Oy!".

[ image: Andy Capp: Ee 's champion]
Andy Capp: Ee 's champion
The editors of the new edition also include words such as "outie" - a homeless person - from South Africa.

Another new word finding its way into the COD is "greenwash" - an ecological version of whitewash, whereby a company covers up its actions in order to appear more environmentally-friendly.

Other new entries among the COD's 24,000 words are "docusoap", "Viagra" and "blokeish".

Penny Silva with John Humphries on Radio 4's Today: English enriched by borrowing
The phrase "24-7" - meaning 24 hours a day, seven days a week - and "Y2K", indicating the year 2000, are also included for the first time.

The abbreviation GM - indicating genetically-modified and grant-maintained, among other definitions - also makes its debut.

Corrupt English

Penny Silver, deputy chief editor of the COD, said the inclusion of new words from the English regions and abroad reflected their increasing use in everyday language.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "English has always been very good at corrupting itself.

"English enriches itself by borrowing.

"I don't think there is any danger of words getting in that are not important, because we have the Oxford world reading programme.

"That watches the language, collects data, and unless the words are well established and appear in a whole lot of publications over a period of time, they are not going to get in."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

02 Jun 99 | UK
Microsoft words

03 Mar 99 | UK
Speaking out for regional accents

19 Jan 99 | UK
What bugged you in 1998?

18 Dec 98 | UK
It's the w**d on the s****t

13 Aug 98 | UK
'To boldly go' gets green light

12 Aug 98 | UK
Ta-da - A language's new vocabulary

Internet Links

Andy Capp

Coronation Street

Oxford University Press

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online