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Cyberslacker enters Oxford Dictionary

The word cyberslacker is one of more than 100 IT-inspired or related words that have made their way into the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English.

The new words point to the continuing and increasing importance of technology in everyday life as words and acronyms that might once have been considered obscure are now becoming common enough for them to get an entry in the dictionary.

Acronyms such as IMAP (Internet Mail Access Protocol), DNS (Domain Name System) and CGI (Common Gateway Interface) are in the new dictionary, alongside words like script kiddie, for "a person who uses existing computer scripts or codes to hack into computers, lacking the expertise to write their own", and open source, for "denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available". Cyberslacker is defined as "a person who uses their employer's internet and e-mail facilities for personal activities during working hours".

The latest entries also demonstrate the speed with which new words are surpassed by even newer words.

Take for example the noun "surfing", which is defined as "the activity of moving from site to site on the internet". It did not make it into the previous edition of the dictionary, published in 1998, and is new this time, but also making an appearance for the first time is a couple of newer and more specific words relating to using the web.

There's "egosurf," which is to "search the internet for instances of one's own name or links to one's own website", and the verb "google", which the dictionary defines as to "search for the name of (someone) on the Internet to find out information about them".

The mobile phone is also leaving its mark on the English language, mostly in the form of new acronyms.

3G, for third generation wireless; GPRS, for General Packet Radio Service; MMS, for Multimedia Messaging Service; SIM, for Subscriber Identification Module; SMS, Short Messaging Service; UMTS, for Universal Mobile Telephone System; and WAP, for Wireless Application Protocol; all made it into the dictionary in addition to I-mode, roaming, ringtone and hands-free.

Some networking standards have also become common enough to gain entries. Bluetooth, FireWire, USB and WiFi are all included although the official designations, such as IEEE802.15 in the case of Bluetooth, are too much of a mouthful to have entered common usage.

Other words  and phrases making their debut include augmented reality, brochureware, cyberstalking, digital divide, killer app, meatspace, overclock, warchalking, and weblog.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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