Locks on a bridge

Love locks attached to a bridge in Ottawa, Ontario.

The idea of love locks is charming. They are small padlocks, often with names or initials etched into them, attached to a bridge, railing or fence as a symbol of love. Awww.

While they may lift lovers’ spirits, though, love locks can drag structures down. In 2015, custodians of the historic Pont des Arts bridge in Paris began removing the thousands of padlocks fastened each year ­– 7,500 kg of them – because they caused structural damage that led to one side of the fence falling off. Romantics keep trying, and this is an issue around the world.

Modern dictionaries reflect how we use words, so they’re always in a state of review and refresh. Love lock has gained enough traction that it’s one of the latest updates to The Oxford English Dictionary (“The definitive record of the English language”), and is among almost 1,000 fully revised entries and 800+ new entries and new uses of a word.

Here are some of the other entries that captured my attention, besides love lock.

You’ll be glad to know the pace of words related to COVID-19 has slowed. Still, there are a couple on this new list:

  • Anti-vax and anti-vaxxer: A person opposed to vaccination
  • Long Covid: A syndrome characterized by the persistence or development of symptoms attributed to COVID-19 weeks after initial infection.

I was surprised these words are considered new:

  • Beeline: To travel in a straight line
  • Beer hall: A large room in which beer is served and consumed
  • Brown-nosing: Excessive or insincere flattery with the aim of gaining favour
  • Foul-tempered: Having a very bad temper; easily annoyed or angered
  • Inadvisedly: Foolishly, unwisely.

These ones appealed to me or made me laugh:

  • Bantery: Playfully teasing or mocking remarks; good-humoured interaction
  • Ghostbuster: A person who investigates supposed paranormal activity (my kids loved the movie!)
  • Haggis-headed: Stupid or foolish
  • Meet-cute: An amusing or charming first encounter that leads to a romance; usually in movies or books
  • Whoop-ass: The delivery of a sound thrashing or overwhelming defeat, well known to fans of the wrestling organization formerly known as WWF
  • Woo-woo: Holding beliefs or following practices regarded as unscientific or irrational
  • Zombocalypse: An imaginary event (as in a movie) in which the world is taken over by zombies
  • Zom-com: A comedy film featuring zombie characters.

Read OED’s look at many of the new words and uses in Whoop-de-do! It’s the OED September 2021 update.

Did any of them particularly appeal to you?