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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 23:35 GMT 00:35 UK
TV provides new dictionary entries
The cover of the previous edition
Phrases like 'lovely jubbly' and 'muppet' have made it into the new edition
The powerful influence of popular culture is evident in the latest edition of the New Oxford Dictionary of English, published on Thursday.

The second edition of the dictionary - considered to be the foremost single-volume authority on the English language - includes many new words and phrases which started life on television.

The hit American TV show, The Sopranos, has given us "bada bing" while British television has been responsible for the phrase "lovely jubbly" entering the language, courtesy of sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Erstwhile American children's TV show The Muppets has also helped establish the word "muppet" as meaning an incompetent or foolish person.

Schedules are now dominated by "reality television", while entertainment is full of "bootylicious" women, "popstrels", and "turntablists", who claim to be "da bomb", meaning the best.

We analyse millions of words of text to find out what is becoming established in the language
Angus Stevenson
New Oxford Dictionary of English
But how do researchers decide when such words and phrases have become so widely used and understood that they deserve to be included in the dictionary?

Angus Stevenson, one of the dictionary's editors, said: "New words are spread worldwide by the media, and some are directly taken from TV such 'boom boom' and 'lovely jubbly'."

'Bada bing' is the name of the strip club run by the lead character in the Sopranos, but is now used in America in a similar way to how 'hey presto' is used in Britain.

Mr Stevenson said: "These are all words taken from TV programmes but we use the same criteria for these as we would for any sort of word.

"We analyse millions of words of text to find out what is becoming established in the language.

"We read science, technical stuff, novels, papers and mags, and even TV scripts - and only put words in the dictionary if there is good evidence of their use in a number of sources over a period of a few years.


"'Boom boom!' (from Basil Brush) has been around for years and now we feel we have enough evidence of its use to say that it warrants a place in the dictionary."

Thousands of new words will be thrown up by the process but only a small percentage make it, while the more ephemeral and poorly evidenced words are put on the back burner.

Others among the 3,000 new words to make it this time include "cyberslacker", "fatoush", "blamestorming", "SARS", "cantopop", "bupkis", "noughties", "muggle", and "robata".

Many familiar words, meanwhile, now have new uses and meanings.

You can "guilt" someone or "version" something, and "groom" has taken on a more sinister meaning, being linked to paedophilia.

The research also confirms the Americanisation of English continues apace.

Foo Fighters

Terms such as "nerd", "geek", "bad hair day", and "24/7" are now as common in Britain as they are across the Atlantic.

The impact of the internet is also clear, with the web becoming a place of "hacktivists", "shovelware" and people who "egosurf".

Another sign of a word's acceptance appears to be when the use of a hyphen is seen as no longer necessary, hence, "e-mails" have become "emails" and we are now "online" not "on-line".

The latest edition can also help clear up the mysterious origins of such terms as "a Brazilian" when used in a beauty salon, tell you who the original "Foo Fighters" were and explain what the "Duckworth Lewis" method is in cricket.

In science and technology, the fast-moving field of genetics has given us some colourful new terms such "pathogenicity islands", "shotgun cloning" and "terminator genes".

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