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Whenever fresh additions are made to the fusty old Oxford English Dictionary, a certain type of person will throw their hands up and openly bemoan the death of the British version of the English language. This cry is only intensified if the words that made it in come from American sources, because apparently you lot can’t be trusted with our most wondrous creation.
So imagine the satisfying state of outrage and apoplexy that exists in some British households today, with the news that the March 2014 list of new entries includes such all-American delights as crap shoot, honky-tonker, and the grand old Big Bang Theory temple-tapper; wackadoodle.
In her notes accompanying the list, Katherine Connor Martin—the OED’s head of US dictionaries—had this to say on the subject of that last entry:
“Wackadoo and wackadoodle are elaborations of wacky, wack, or wacko, used to refer to people regarded as eccentric. The silliness of the words themselves contributes to their mildly contemptuous effect.
“Similar-sounding nonsense words were used as refrains in popular songs like ‘Doo Wacka Doo’ in the early 20th century, but it isn’t certain that these directly impacted the later development of wackadoo and wackadoodle, which didn’t become common until the end of the century.”
And that’s not even the strangest addition: that honor goes to bathroom break, which doesn’t even make sense in British English (while the bathroom is the room with the bath in it, it is not necessarily the room with a toilet in it), and do-over, which was, until recently, simply known as having another go.
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic