OED Recognizes "Geekery" (and 93 Other Words) in June Quarterly Update

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Oxford English Dictionary Online Edition has a new entry for "geekery." (Screen grab K. Moore)

Lexical geeks everywhere perked up their auricles when a hoary old venerated tome like the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) announced that its June quarterly update included a word in our domain: geekery.

This is in addition to the existing list of  eleven other words listed in the current online edition with “geek” roots. Sadly for me, my printed copy does not inherit any of the updates in the 30 or so years since it was published.

The OED Online entry for geekery (for British English primarily; American English is described in the Oxford American English Dictionary) is listed as slang whose first definition refers to

…bizarre or grotesque acts performed by a carnival or circus geek (geek n. 2), regarded collectively.

The  second definition is

2. Actions or behaviour typical of a geek or geeks (geek n. 1b, geek n. 1c); spec. obsessive devotion to or knowledge of a particular (specified) subject or pursuit, esp. one regarded as unfashionable or highly technical. Also: the state of being a geek; geekiness.

There are historically derived quotations illustrating usage of the terms at different points in history, which helps to clarify differences between definitions and how each definition evolves over time. This is vastly true of definitions 1 and 2 for “geekery”– the carnival freak vs. the extreme enthusiast.

The  94 words in the June quarterly update focus on words with hand, head, or heart as their bases, plus other high-impact words like fracking, kombucha, red velvet, and tweet.

In addition to “our” word, this quarterly update includes the 93 other new words (main entries), plus new sub-entries and new senses for words already present in the OED. You can find out more about the June update at http://public.oed.com/whats-new/ and a more in-depth discussion of the update’s themes and quirks in an essay by OED Chief Editor John Simpson at http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/june-2013-update/a-heads-up-for-the-june-2013-oed-release/ . Dip into the OED and join me in my word geekery (definition 2, not 1!).


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