21st-century-lingo A Guide To Speaking 21st Century EnglishRemember the uproar a while back when “LOL” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary? No? Oh. Well, maybe the uproar was only in my head. At the time I was a strong believer that colloquial acronyms like “LOL” (and its cohorts, “LMAO” and “ROFL”) had their place, but that place was not in a dictionary.

I’ve mellowed since then, which is probably for the best, as a slew of new words joined “LOL” in the Oxford English Dictionary last week, many of which stem from technological or social media roots. Here is my phrasebook for those of you who are new to this latest incarnation of the English language:

 A Guide To Speaking 21st Century English


A photo that you take of yourself with your smartphone, often in front of the bathroom mirror (or any reflective surface, really). See also: Peace Sign and Duckface.


For those with a limited vocabulary, emojis are the best means of communication. Be warned; emoji aficionados are prone to sending such obscure and inscrutable combinations of smiley faces, lightning bolts and various fruits in their messages that deciphering their meaning borders on the impossible.


The opposite of the “Like” button on Facebook. Stating “Unlike” in a comment means you withdraw any and all support, endorsement or approval of the content in question.

internet-acronyms A Guide To Speaking 21st Century English


An unfortunate portmanteau that combines “phone” with “tablet” to describe the cumbersome new type of device that is neither small enough to fit into your pocket, nor large enough to comfortably watch a film on.


Digital currency, and kind of a big deal. Individuals can complete transactions using Bitcoin, without any need for a bank.


Fear of missing out. “FOMO” is the reason so many people get separation anxiety if their smartphone is more than a few feet away. What if they get sent a tweet and they can’t respond to it? What if they receive an invite to a party or a gig, and they don’t know about it until it’s too late? CollegeHumor best skewered the phenomenon in this video:


Bring your own device.  This refers to companies allowing their workers to use their own phones, laptops and tablets. The idea is that giving employees one centralised device to work from (rather than a personal phone and a work phone) will help them to be more organised and productive.

Digital detox

More and more people are going through a digital detox, often while on holiday or over the weekends. By logging out of social media and emails for an extended period, individuals return to work refreshed. Note: Digital detox is a potential treatment for FOMO.

Among the other terms added to the Oxford English Dictionary are “geek chic”, “squee”, and “twerk”. What’s your favourite new addition? Let us know in the comments.