What does YOLO have to do with Balzac? A lot, apparently
Image via YouTube, Red Hour Productions
Apparently the Oxford English Dictionary has embraced the idea that you only live once. In a move that might delight some and horrify others, the most famous gatekeeper of the English language has added “YOLO” to the dictionary.
YOLO, as every tween Snapchat user knows, is the widely used acronym for “you only live once,” which, according to its snazzy new dictionary definition, is “used to express the view that one should make the most of the present moment without worrying about the future (often as a rationale for impulsive or reckless behaviour).” Keeping a record of changing lingual norms will ensure no English speaker gets left behind in this slang-heavy, social-media-driven world.
According to a press release, YOLO will join a few other trendy words in the OED including “clickbait,” “biatch,” “jack-off,” “moobs” (aka man boobs), and the ubiquitous “butt-fuck.” Of “biatch” specifically, OED Senior Assistant Editor Jonathan Dent explained its origin in an announcement of the new updates, writing, “one of many variant spellings of biatch is first recorded in lyrics by hip-hop artist Too Short from 1986.” He even traces YOLO back to French novelist Balzac, writing that the axiom was “first used in a nineteenth-century English translation of Balzac’s French ‘on ne vit qu’un fois’ in his Le Cousin Pons.”
Image via The Keep Calm-O-Matic
And if that’s not reason enough to include everyone’s favorite Friday night mantra in the prestigious dictionary, consider that people have been using “squee” since the mid-1800s to convey high-pitched squealing noises. See? Even with our 140 character limits and emoji-littered captions, English hasn’t changed that much after all.
The craziest new words added (out of more than 500) to the Oxford Dictionary, in order: