Here’s how the words ‘loo’, ‘flip-flop’ and ‘wazzock’ evolved

November 14th, 2007 - 2:31 am ICT by admin  
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has announced that it had updated its pages with 34 new definitions of words after the public helped to trace their history.

The BBC’s Balderdash And Piffle series uncovered the derivations with the help of viewers who sent in the earliest uses, and possible explanations for a list of modern words as well as a few older phrases.

The show unearthed an origin for `loo’ in a 1936 letter from actress Lady Diana Cooper to her husband, Oldham MP Duff Cooper, sent from Tangiers, in which she writes: “We’ve come to this very good hotel - your style - with a pretty Moorish bath in every room and a lu-lu a cote.”

“It couldn’t really refer to anything else. It has long been suspected that this euphemism for toilet was born in an aristocratic setting, and this blue-blooded evidence adds weight to this theory,” the Independent quoted Tania Styles, the OED’s etymologist, as saying about the letter.

`Wazzock’ is now listed as a stupid or annoying person after it was found in a 1976 recording by British folk singer, author and broadcaster Mike Harding.

`Gordon Bennett’, listed as a euphemism for Gorblimey, was found in a 1937 novel by James Curtis called You’re In The Racket, Too! which includes the phrase: “He stretched and yawned. Gordon Bennett, he wasn’t half tired.”

The source for “flip-flop” was discovered in the customs declaration of a Royal Australian Air Force serviceman leaving Malaya in 1958.

The OED drafted a new definition for the word “bollocks” after viewers found it had been used as a term of praise by Superbike magazine in September 1981 when it hailed a scantily-clad woman with a motorcycle as “the Absolute Bollocks”.

John Simpson, the OED chief editor, expressed pleasure at the results of the public appeal.

“What’s great is that people have found the sort of earlier evidence which our own researchers couldn’t realistically have tracked down, for example the hand-written customs declaration form which gave us “flip-flops,” he said.

This year’s list contained details on the earliest known usage of 40 words. The OED agreed to update 34 of them after its compilers considered the new evidence.

Last year’s word hunt provided updated information on the ploughman’s lunch, the ninety-nine ice cream and the full monty, among others. (ANI)

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