English words that have gone extinct

As new words enter our lexicon, others fall out of favor and into extinction. Here, then, are the fossilized remains of some real corkers.

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Some are pop culture inventions such as jeggings, photobomb and meme. Others, such as emoji and upvote, spring up from technology and social media.

Dictionaries respond by creating definitions for anyone who cares to know what a twitterer is. Thank goodness they do; you can learn what an eggcorn is simply by turning a few pages in your trusty updated dictionary.

Not all newly added words are recent developments. The Oxford English Dictionary June 2015 new words list included autotune, birdhouse, North Korean and shizzle. North Korea was founded in 1948. The initial release of the autotuner audio processor was in 1997.

Before adding a slang term like shizzle, dictionary publishers weigh its current popularity, predicted longevity and other factors. This year alone, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary welcomed about 1,700 new arrivals.

With more and more words coined every year, dictionaries couldn’t possibly add them all to their existing word banks. Can you imagine a dictionary containing all the words ever used in English? It would be impossible to lift. With each new edition, dictionary editors must discard some words to make room for new ones.

Remembrance of words past

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