BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 October, 2004, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Buzz as 'chavs' brought to book
Little Britain character Vicky Pollard
"Yeah, but no..." - Little Britain's incomprehensible Vicky Pollard
Teenage yobs in their uniform of cheap jewellery and baseball caps may be seen as an unwelcome scourge, but they have earned a place in a new reference book.

"Chav" - the label for these youngsters - has been named buzzword of the year in Susie Dent's book Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report.

Miss Dent said it was a "horrible" word but "a good example of a word that has burst out on to the scene".

The book lists buzzwords for every year since "hip" in 1904.

Ms Dent, a regular expert on Channel 4's Countdown, said "chav" was "a good example of a word that has flown under the radar for quite a long time".

It is believed to come from the mid-19th Century Romany word Chavi, meaning child.

1904 hip
1936 spliff
1945 mobile phone
1949 Big Brother
1953 hippy
1965 miniskirt
1974 punk
1980 power dressing
1998 text message
2004 chav

"It is one of quite a few social class labels that have emerged," Ms Dent said.

She added that while its current meaning was derogatory, it could evolve into something more positive.

"I think we may find that because a lot of people have been quite outraged by it, it starts to transform itself into something quite positive.

"Chav fashion may become something quite cool."

The book, published by Oxford University Press, lists a buzzword for every year since 1904.

"I wanted to look at how language is changing," Miss Dent said.

Students discover lost word
18 Dec 02 |  England


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific