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'Twerk' thrusts its way into Oxford English Dictionary

5:19 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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(Photo: Kevin Mazur, WireImage for MTV)

(NBC NEWS) -- Miley Cyrus' raunchy performance at MTV's Video Music Awards may have brought "twerking" to much of the world's attention, but the rump-thrusting dance move has been around long enough to warrant an entry into the online cousin of the oh-so traditional Oxford English Dictionary, officials said Thursday.

Oxford Dictionaries' Katherine Connor Martin said "twerk" originated about two decades ago and is used widely enough to warrant an entry.
"There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure," she told The Associated Press. "We think the most likely theory is that it is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to 'work it.' The 't' could be a result of blending with another word such as twist or twitch."

The dictionary defines the word as a "dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance."

Compilers of the dictionary's online database have identified 1,000 new words that will be considered for the next paper edition of the dictionary if they prove to be more than passing fads.

They include "selfie" which means photographing oneself, usually on a telephone camera held at arm's length, or a having a "food baby" which refers to a swelling of the gut caused by overindulgence rather than pregnancy.

Technology also seems to be driving the new range of words with "click and collect" up for consideration along with the online currency, "Bitcoin."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

By Henry Austin, NBC News contributor

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