New English Words Quiz: Spring 2011

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New English Word Quiz - Spring 2011

The Oxford English Dictionary is the unrivalled reference to the meaning, history and pronunciation of the English language. It defines over half a million words, and lists 2.5 million quotations to illustrate their meanings. Its ten volumes took 50 years to compile.

These days, the OED's lexicographers publish quarterly updates to the online edition. On 24th March, 2011, they reviewed and updated all the words lying alphabetically from 'roto' up to the end of the letter R, as well as some well-known omissions from across the alphabet. They also added a number of abbreviations (or, to be precise, initialisms) including OMG, LOL and WAG.

Two of the most intriguing new words were the noun tinfoil hat and the associated adjective tinfoil-hat-wearing. This item was first recorded in 1884 as a party hat, yet, just over a century later, a sinister new meaning became attached to the word. The dictionary describes this as with allusion to the belief that such a hat protects the wearer from mind control or surveillance (esp. by extraterrestrials or the government), and goes on to describe its wearer as deluded, paranoid; advocating or believing in conspiracy theories. I wonder what we'll think of today's hats in 100 years time.

The other new words added to the OED in this update were maybe a little more obscure, but how many of them can you identify? I've listed 20 of the new words added in March 2011, and have given four possible definitions for each one - can you spot the correct one?

You'll find the answers at the foot of the page, but no peeking until you've guessed them all!

1. ambigram

a) a heart-lung activity record

b) a singing telegram delivered by a transvestite

c) a word pattern

d) a word puzzle

2. banh mi

a) a beach bar

b) a funeral ceremony

c) a mail-order bride

d) a sandwich

3. Divehi

a) a high diving platform

b) a Hindu festival

c) the language of the Maldives

d) a sacred text

4. dubplate

a) an advanced copy of a record

b) an autocue

c) a footplate on a bobsleigh

d) a potter's wheel

5. gremolata

a) a Latin dance

b) a dressing used in Italian cookery

c) a flavoured coffee

d) a wedding dress

6. kleftiko

a) a birth deformity

b) a Greek slow-cooked lamb dish

c) a plane-spotter

d) a rocket launcher

7. roupily

a) coolly

b) dishonestly

c) hoarsely

d) threateningly

8. Roussanne

a) a breed of sheep

b) a grape variety

c) an impressionist painting

d) a nebula

9. rozzle

a) to drink heavily

b) to heat in front of a fire

c) to spray with champagne

d) to tease

10. ruach

a) a freshwater fish

b) an interior wall

c) life force

d) a type of cheese

11. rubus

a) an antelope

b) an edible berry plant

c) an electronic cable

d) a tram

12. rugelach

a) a Jewish pastry

b) regret

c) a Scottish land measure

d) a skin disease

13. rumspringa

a) the Amish courtship period

b) a New Zealand shrub

c) a Trinidadian cocktail

d) a West African termite

14. runchick

a) ethically-reared poultry

b) a rickshaw

c) a roadrunner

d) a weed

15. Rungu

a) an East African wooden club

b) a Maori tattoo

c) a tropical fish

d) a unit of currency

16. ruote

a) a cinema

b) a fire ant

c) a poem

d) wagon-wheel-shaped pasta

17. rusticle

a) a hammock

b) an icicle-shaped bacterial growth found on rusting shipwrecks

c) a loaf of bread

d) a threshing machine

18. Skidi

a) hell

b) a member of a Native American tribe

c) a star in the constellation of Serpens

d) vodka

19. tetri

a) a black-box flight recorder

b) a tropical fish

c) a type of yoga

d) a unit of currency

20. yidaki

a) a didgeridoo

b) a folk dance

c) a lamb stew

d) a monkey


1c 2d 3c 4a 5b 6b 7c 8b 9b 10c 11b 12a 13a 14d 15a 16d 17b 18b 19d 20a

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