For the second time in less than a week, Twitter has had some of its lingo lifted to “official word” status. Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary has just announced that “tweet” will secure a spot in its dictionary as both a noun and a verb.
And while you might register “tweet” as a relatively new term born of Twitter, it is actually one of the oldest words among the 100 new words added to the dictionary today.
The official entry for tweet describes it as “a post made on the Twitter online message service”. However, that description will join the previous definition of “tweet”, which calls it “a chirping note”, and indicates that its first recorded use was 1768.
“Tweet” joins other tech and social media terms new to the dictionary, including “m-commerce”, “social media” and “crowdsourcing”.
Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, explains why “tweet” was added this year:
“Even if people had no interest or possible chance of getting a Twitter account themselves, they now have to know what ‘tweet’ means, and that’s really why it’s in the dictionary.”
If dictionaries are any indication of mainstream status for terminology (and I can’t think of anything else that would indicate this more), Twitter is on a roll.
Just five days ago, “retweet” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary with the following entry: “verb: (on a social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user).”
It looks like Twitter’s niche terminology is becoming necessary for users and non-users to grasp, and what better way to learn what a tweet is than to look it up in your dictionary?