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LOL, OMG, BFF now in OED

LOL! The authoritative reference book's latest online update will include several Internet-inspired expressions.

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Although some of the new terms are associated with modern electronic communications, some are surprisingly old. The first confirmed use of OMG was in a 1917 letter by a British admiral.

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OMG! LOL! The venerable Oxford English Dictionary approves of the three-letter, Internet-inspired expressions you use for "Oh, my God!" and "Laughing out loud."

It is adding them to the authoritative reference book's latest online update.

You can now text the news to your BFF. That's "best friends forever."

All three expressions — and IMHO, or "in my humble opinion" — are among 900 new words included this week. Cracking the dictionary, however, is no easy task.

"The OED is quite cautious," said Graeme Diamond, OED's principal editor for new words.

Terms made popular online are only included among the dictionary's 300,000 entries when they have crossed over into everyday use, Diamond said.

Although the new abbreviations are associated with modern electronic communications, some are surprisingly old. The first confirmed use of OMG was in a 1917 letter by a British admiral.

"Things people think are new words normally have a longer history," Diamond said.

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Editors publish updates to the online Oxford every three months.

The OED's Internet version was launched in 2000 and gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers. It may replace the mammoth 20-volume printed edition, last published in 1989.

The new update also includes:

— "muffin top," ''a protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers."

— wag, "wives and girlfriends." It was first used in 2002 to describe the female partners of members of the England soccer team. Now it denotes the glamorous and extravagant female partners of male celebrities.

"By our standards, wag is a real rocket of a word," Diamond said. "To go from being coined in 2002 to being included in 2011 is quite unusual."

— "heart" as a verb, a casual equivalent of "to love" that is represented with a symbol, as seen on millions of souvenirs proclaiming "I (heart) New York."

It may be the first English usage to come from T-shirts and bumper stickers. "At some point, people started to vocalize what the symbol was rather than what the symbol stood for," said Fiona McPherson, another editor. "People now talk about hearting things left, right and center."

Well, the latest update hearts the Road Runner cartoon character. The word "meep" — a short high-pitched sound — made the cut.

There are other new terms from the online world, including ego-surfing (the practice of searching for your own name on the Internet) and dot-bomb (a failed Internet company).

Diamond said the Internet has revolutionized the way lexicographers work, giving them a huge amount of new evidence of word use.

Which brings us to another new online-inspired word: TMI, "too much information."

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