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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Henry inspires English dictionary
Thierry Henry
The dictionary answers Henry's search for "va-va-voom"
A phrase made famous by French footballer Thierry Henry is one of the newest entries in the English dictionary.

And the inclusion of "va-va-voom" finally answers the Arsenal striker's quest to define its meaning in TV adverts for car makers Renault.

The 11th edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary was published on Thursday.

Other new words include "designer baby", "speed dating" and "flash mob".

The dictionary's authors have summed up va-va-voom as: "The quality of being exciting, vigorous, or sexually attractive".

Judy Pearsall, from the Oxford University Press said: "We have evidence of it going back to the 1950s from the US as imitating the noise of an engine.

New entries in the 11th edition
Va-va-voom
Blue-on-blue
Bioweapon
Congestion charge
Cybercrime
Designer baby
Speed dating
Plasma screen
Flash mob

"But it is Thierry Henry's use of the term in the TV adverts that has earned it a place in the dictionary. We have seen it used more widely as a result."

Topical events such as the Iraq war have led to additions including "blue-on-blue", defined as: "denoting or relating to an attack made by one's own side that accidentally harms one's own forces" and "bioweapon" : "A harmful biological agent used as a weapon of war".

And "congestion charge" also makes its first appearance, described as: "A charge made to drive into an area, typically a city centre, that suffers heavy traffic."

Ms Pearsall said: "We have readers who go through various sources, from websites and journals to books and even comics. Anywhere you can think of where the written word is collected.

"Then what we do is use a points system where we judge each word on a certain criteria."

But she said they had found many people confusing words in modern situations like e-mail and chatrooms.

"Whether such mistakes will, in time, spill over into more formal types of writing is yet to be seen," she said.

"The question is: does it matter, if, in a generation's time, people are writing about 'pouring over magazines' or 'towing the line'?"


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