Everyone’s favorite hard-to-pronounce Danish word has taken over more than just American culture.

June 28, 2017
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Attention logophiles: This month, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added over 600 new words, phrases, and senses. Included is a wide range of loanwords, or words that are adopted from a foreign language with little or no modification. Most notably, everyone’s new favorite winter word hygge now has its own entry in the English dictionary.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah)—a noun—is defined as “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarding as a defining character of Danish culture).” It’s frequently referred to as “a feeling you cannot translate,” though now that it’s part of the English language, a translation is not needed. And though hygge is certainly engendered by cozy candlelight and cuddly clothing, it’s also about spending quality time with friends and family, such as sitting around the table conversing, according to the Danish tourism board.

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Hygge joins the OED alongside along some other notable additions: a new sense of thing (as in “Hygge has definitely become a thing over the past year”), changing table, and zoomable. There is also a new last word in the dictionary: Zyzzyva, which the OED decribes as “the name of a genus of tropical weevils native to South America and typically found on or near palm trees.” See the entire list on the Oxford English Dictionary’s website, as well as notes on a handful of interesting additions like Boston Marriage, particle zoo, and post-truth (which Oxford deemed as its 2016 word of the year).

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The OED adds thousands of new words every quarter, so the next update will come in September. The last update came in March 2017, when 500 new entries like hat-tip and things aren’t what they used to be, were added. So, who knows, maybe we’ll see forest bathing—the newest cross-cultural trend from Japan—become more of a thing this summer and get its own OED entry next time!

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