South African words added to Oxford dictionary


26 June 2014

In its latest quarterly update, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has added approximately 500 words, phrases, and meanings to its lexicon. Three South African words are on this newest list.

“The June 2015 update covers a huge variety of words, and our release notes reflect this,” OED says on its website.

“This update contains dozens of items which are not recorded before the 21st century, but which are now widely used in English, including jeggings, photobomb, crowdfund, totes, staycation, and sext,” wrote Katherine Connor Martin, the head of US dictionaries.

South Africanisms

South Africa’s contributions are “papsak”, “whoonga”, and “tenderpreneur”:

  • Papsak: the foil container, usually encased in a box, in which wine is sold, referring specifically to cheap wine;
  • Whoonga: the street drug that allegedly contains anti-retroviral drugs; and,
  • Tenderpreneur: combining the words “tender” and “entrepreneur”, it refers to a person who uses their influence to benefit from government contracts.

“Neologisms based on the word entrepreneur, like infopreneur and technopreneur, have become increasingly common in English worldwide,” wrote Martin. “Tenderpreneur is a recent South African coinage on that model, referring to ‘a person who uses his or her political connections to secure government contracts and tenders for personal advantage.'”

Other words

Besides these South African terms, other widely used words that have been added to the dictionary include:

  • Jeggings: clothing designed to look like jeans, but which have stretch in them, like leggings;
  • Photobomb: to insert yourself into someone else’s photo; and,
  • Crowdfund: to fund a project from lots of people who usually donate small sums online.


“The OED records the meaning and development of the English language,” reads the BBC website. “For a word to qualify, it must have been in popular use for at least 10 years in both novels and newspapers.”

SAinfo reporter