Oxford English Dwarf

"Smeg" added to renowned dictionary.

28 June, 2013

Over the past twenty-five years, Red Dwarf has permeated popular culture - particularly in the UK - in all sorts of ways. It's taken until 2013, however, for the show to trouble the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary - but now, courtesy of the venerable reference work's latest quarterly update, our favourite sitcom has now been committed to the ages.

Oxford English Dwarf

Adding new entries for not one but two words featured in (and, crucially, popularised by) the show, the new OED first tells us that smeg is:

smeg, n. (and int.)
Etymology: Perhaps originally an invented word; if so, later frequently interpreted as shortened < SMEGMA n.
Originally: used as a general expletive. Later also:
smegma; any viscous substance. Also as
Popularized by the British television programme Red Dwarf (1988-99).

... before also going on to define the show's most famous insult, the compound word smeghead, rather delightfully as "a fool or contemptible person".

Red Dwarf is the initial reference cited for both words - putting Rob Grant and Doug Naylor's names in the dictionary for the first time - but it's with the use of them by assorted other sources, also referenced, that they become eligible for inclusion as words to be defined. The Dwarfian epithets join other new additions such as flash mob, fracking, geekery and the somewhat marvellous Mephistophelian - not to mention a new "sense" for the word tweet , referring for the first time to people's use of the social network rather than simply a bird's call.

The OED isn't the only lexicon being updated in the present day, of course, but it's certainly widely considered to be the most authoritative record of the English language both as it stands and as it continues to evolve. The quarterly updates - among which "smeg" has been included - are going towards the fabled third edition of the book, which is estimated to be due for completion some time in the 2030s. Maybe by that point "JOZXYQK" might have made it in as well...?

See "smeg" and the other new words listed at the OED website!

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