Inukshuk, keener among ‘Canadian’ words added to Oxford English Dictionary

Two inukshuk made out of ice stand during a winter cold snap, along the shore on Lake Ontario in Kingston, Ont., on Jan. 3, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

TORONTO — Nearly 500 new words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, and just in time for Canada Day some Canuck-inspired words made the cut.

That ‘keener’ in class who made everyone else look bad? Apparently that’s a uniquely Canadian use of the term, referring to “a person, especially a student, who is extremely or excessively eager, zealous, or enthusiastic.”

In other parts of the world the word has a more bizarre meaning: it’s “a person who wails or sings in grief for a dead person.”

Ever received a strange look when telling someone to stop at the dep for some beer or a bag of chips? The OED has added some clarity to the situation, adding the definition of loanword ‘depanneur’ as a convenience store, particularly in Quebec.

WATCH: Photo project captures unique glimpse of Canadian lives

Inukshuk, a traditional Inuit man-made formation of stacked rocks in the shape of a human figure has been added. ‘Stagette’ was first common in the United States as a term for “a woman attending a social function without a partner.” But Canada, it seems, has claimed it as its own, now commonly used as a term for a bachelorette party.

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Canada is a cultural mosaic, and most have had an Italian nonna or two urge them to “mangia, mangia.” While most would gladly comply, if you’re not Italian you may be called a ‘mangia-cake,’ a (not overly flattering) term “used by Canadians of Italian descent to refer to a non-Italian.”

The “chiefly Canadian” ‘double-double’ was also entered, defined as “a cup of coffee with a double serving of both sugar and cream.”

One of the buzziest terms as of late, FOMO was also added as a new sub-entry.

FOMO, for those in the dark, is the “fear of missing out.” The noun describes “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”

It’s a term that’s been used as selfie-happy social media sites have grown. But FOMO can have a side darker than mere jealousy, according to some financial experts: it can lead some to spend money they don’t have to keep pace with their friends’ extravagant vacations and purchases.

“The fear of missing out is people being inundated with social media, seeing what their friends are doing, seeing all the tweets, seeing on Facebook — people are going out, fancy meals, expensive trips, buying new cars, all sorts of things, and people don’t want to miss that,” Bruce Caplan, a bankruptcy trustee from BDO Canada, told Global News in April.

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Perhaps of interest to some, the OED has uncovered a long history behind newly entered word twerk, a form of dancing made mainstream by singer Miley Cyrus.

READ MORE: California high school bans twerking

“Sometimes words that seem new can actually have a surprisingly long history. The use of twerk to describe a type of dancing which emphasizes the performer’s posterior has its roots in the early 1990s in the New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene, but the word itself seems to originate from more than 170 years before that,” according to the OED.

The word has roots reaching back to 1820, as a noun originally spelled twirk, referring to “a twisting or jerking movement; a twitch.” The verb emerged in 1848, and the current spelling was in popular use by 1901.

The OED charts the historical development of the English language and has stricter admission criteria than other Oxford dictionaries. New entries must have been in use in both news stories and fiction for at least 10 years.

With a file from Adriana Mingo and the Associated Press

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