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The Oxford Dictionary of New Words

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Environment, is today expected to warn high-spending councils that he is ready to take tough new action to stamp out 'creative accounting'.

The Times 21 Nov. 1986, p. 2

cred° noun (Youth Culture)

In young people's slang: credibility, reputation, peer status.

Etymology: Formed by abbreviating credibility to its first syllable.

History and Usage: The emphasis on cred in the early nineties arises from the concept of street credibility which developed at the very end of the seventies. Street credibility (which by the early eighties was being abbreviated to street cred) originally involved popularity with, and accessibility to, members of the urban street culture, who were seen as representing ordinary people. Before long, though, the term had come to mean familiarity with contemporary fashions--or the extent to which a person was 'hip'. Once the concept was established, the word street was often dropped, leaving cred alone.

'Cred' was achieved by your rhetorical stance and no one had more credibility than the Clash.

Bob Geldof Is That It? (1986), p. 125

'They've got to have total cred,' Boxall insisted, when listing the special qualities he is looking for [in a magazine editor].

Sydney Morning Herald 1 Feb. 1990, p. 28

credý noun (Business World)

In colloquial use (originally in the US): financial credit.

Etymology: Formed by abbreviating credit to its first syllable.

History and Usage: A natural development in view of the boom in the use of credit facilities during the late seventies and

eighties. Also used in combinations, especially cred card.

Neat trick, eh? Cash and cred all in one bundle.

The Face Jan. 1989, p. 61

credit card

(Business World) see card°

crew noun (Youth Culture)

In hip hop culture, a group of rappers, break-dancers, graffiti artists, etc. working together as a team. Also, loosely, one's gang or posse.

Etymology: A specialized use of crew in the sense of 'a body or squad of people working together', which goes back to the seventeenth century. In this case, there is probably a conscious allusion to the Rock Steady Crew: see break-dancing.

History and Usage: Originally used mainly of groups of rappers (from about 1982 in the US), the term was soon applied to street groups using other hip-hop forms of expression such as break-dancing and graffiti (see tagý) and by the end of the

decade had been adopted more generally by groups of youngsters.

To kids out of the South Bronx and Harlem, what the top crews make is big bucks. For a one-night gig...a dancer takes home $150 to $300.

Village Voice (New York) 10 Apr. 1984, p. 38

He and four friends, members of a crew of graffiti artists who call themselves the L.A. Beastie Boys, gathered at the park.

Los Angeles Times 22 Oct. 1987, section 10 (Glendale), p. 1

crop circle

noun (Environment)

A (usually circular) area of standing crops which has been

inexplicably flattened, apparently by a swirling, vortex-like movement.

Etymology: Formed by compounding: a circle of flattened crop.

History and Usage: The puzzling phenomenon of crop circles (sometimes also called corn circles) has been perplexing scientists for about a decade. Since the early eighties increasing numbers of circles and other patterns have been reported in areas as far apart as the South of England, the farming belt of the US, and Australia, often appearing overnight. A number of theories--ranging from meteorological changes or fungi to alien spaceships or the activity of hoaxers--have been put forward to explain them, but none has been conclusive.

They are the result not of the supernatural but of an everyday, common garden variety of fungi, according to biologists Mr Michael Hall and Mr Andrew Macara, who have been conducting a study into the crop circle conundrum.

Sunday Telegraph 11 Mar. 1990, p. 5

Could the enormous increase in the perplexing crop circles be anything to do with the Earth's vital energies?

Kindred Spirit Summer 1990, p. 26

crossover noun and adjective Sometimes written cross-over (Music) (People and Society)

noun: The process of moving from one culture (or especially from one musical genre) to another; something or someone that has done this (specifically, a musical act or artist that has moved from a specialized appeal in one limited area of music into the general popular-music charts).

adjective: (Of a person) that has made this transition from one culture or genre to another; (of music, an act, etc.) appealing to a wide audience outside its genre, sometimes by mixing musical styles.

Etymology: The noun is formed on the verbal phrase cross over and has been used in a number of specialized senses in English since the eighteenth century. The cultural sense here is perhaps in part a figurative application of the genetic crossover (one

of the word's specialized senses, in use since the early years of this century), in which the characteristics of both parents are displayed as a result of the crossing over of pairs of chromosomes.

History and Usage: Since the sixties, crossover has been used in politics (especially in the US) in relation to the practice

or tactic of switching votes from the party with which one is registered to another party--for instance in a State primary. Within the music industry crossover was being used by the mid seventies in relation to records in the country charts which were tending to cross over into popular music generally, and it was not long before this process became more generalized, for

example as various Black sounds acquired a more general appeal to White audiences. In the eighties, crossover was one of the favourite words of the music industry and there was plenty of scope for its use, as soundtracks from films and television

series increasingly figured in the charts and the big names of classical music ventured into middle-of-the-road and easy listening recordings. In the broader cultural context sociologists use crossover to refer to the way in which people

from one ethnic background consciously leave their roots culture for another, more prestigious one; this has led to an extended use of crossover in relation to fashion, as ethnic cultures acquired high prestige and became fashionable in Western society. Other extended uses of the word included actresses

crossing over from theatre to films and even a supermarket which had gone over to wholefoods to cash in on the new green culture of the late eighties.

'I think the crossover has already started happening', says Salman Ahmed. 'This year I've noticed a lot of white and coloured kids at the shows...' Within the world of bhangra there are mixed reactions to the idea of crossover.

Sunday Telegraph Magazine 22 May 1988, p. 38

It showed the group making the crossover from deft-but-faceless R&B outfit to 'far out' funkers.

Q Dec. 1989, p. 169

Blame prefigured what fashion mood critics would soon call 'crossover culture'--the white mainstream's fresh infatuation with black style.

Vogue Sept. 1990, p. 87

crucial adjective (Youth Culture)

In young people's slang: very good or important, great, fantastic.

Etymology: An example of the way in which meaning is weakened and trivialized in the idiom of young people: compare ace, awesome, and rad.

History and Usage: Crucial belongs to the slang usage of the very young (largely the pre-teenage group) in the late eighties. It was popularized especially by children's television presenters and other media personalities, notably the comedian

Lenny Henry, who devoted a whole book to the subject. As often happens with such slang words, the respectability which crucial gained by being used in print caused it to go out of fashion rather among the youngsters who were using it.

Martha (aged seven): 'Lenny Henry, he wrote the "guide to cruciality", so we don't say crucial no more.'

New Statesman 16 Feb. 1990, p. 12

The very latest buzz-word, after last year's favourite sayings like 'mental, mental', 'crucial' and 'wicked', is 'raw'.

Daily Star 20 Mar. 1990, p. 13

I have worn out three sets of trainers running around telling my friends how crucial Young Eye is.

Private Eye 26 Oct. 1990, p. 21


adjective (Environment)

Of cosmetics and other goods: not tested (or only minimally tested) on animals during development; produced ostensibly without involving any cruelty to animals.

Etymology: For etymology, see -free.

History and Usage: This is a term which started to appear in the late eighties as a natural consequence of the increasingly

well-publicized animal liberation movement--a movement whose arguments seemed to get a more sympathetic hearing once green views in general became acceptable. Cruelty-free often appears on the labels of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other everyday products which have hitherto been routinely tested on laboratory animals but are now produced without actual cruelty (although the interpretation of 'actual cruelty' evidently still varies); vegetarians also sometimes use it to refer to animal-free food products.

Mary Bonner showed over 50 people how enjoyable a cruelty-free Christmas can be with her celebration roast, mushroom stuffing and red wine sauce, vegan Christmas Cake and mince pies.

Vegetarian Mar./Apr. 1988, p. 42

Pamphlets that bring news of...where they can purchase 'cruelty-free' soaps and shampoos.

Forbes 20 Mar. 1989, p. 44

crumblie noun (People and Society) (Youth Culture)

In young people's slang: an old or senile person (older than a wrinklie).

Etymology: Formed by treating a figurative sense of the adjective as a noun; the metaphor relies on the assumption among the young that all elderly people will eventually 'crack up' and

become senile. This process of crumbling, they suppose, is the natural next step after going wrinkly.

History and Usage: Used mainly by children and teenagers from about the late seventies, and apparently limited to British English.

The growing fashion among teenagers is to describe their parents as 'wrinklies' and their grandparents as 'crumblies'. A reader, however, tells me how she countered this when...she described her own children, in their earshot, as 'pimplies'.

Daily Telegraph 26 Jan. 1987, p. 17

cryocombining form (Health and Fitness) (Science and Technology)

Widely used in compounds relating to extreme cold, especially when this is an artificial means of preserving tissue.

Etymology: From the Greek kruos 'frost, icy cold'.

History and Usage: Early words formed with this combining form concerned temperatures not much below the freezing point of water. However, as it became possible to create lower and lower temperatures artificially, cryocame to be associated with the

sort of intense cold that could only be achieved with the aid of 'cold-creating' or cryogenic equipment, such as apparatus for liquefying nitrogen or other gases. During the sixties and seventies the creation of such temperatures began to find applications in electronics and surgery: below a certain point some materials become superconductors, that is to say they lose all electrical resistance, which makes them very useful in a wide range of applications (in brilliant pebbles, for example), while cryosurgery uses intense cold to remove or destroy tissue just as effectively as heat. Until the late seventies cryonics

(or cryopreservation), the use of extreme cold to preserve living tissue, had remained at an experimental stage because of the tendency of water to expand when frozen--making the formation of ice crystals within living cells lethally damaging.

However, study of the few animals which can survive freezing led to the development of substances which circumvent some of the problems (cryoprotectants). During the eighties it became

possible to cryopreserve an increasingly wide range of tissues for future use: sperm may be stored in a cryobank, and frozen embryos may now be thawed out for cryobirth. The lack of any reliable means of freezing and thawing the entire human body without severe damage has not prevented cryonicists, mostly on the West coast of the US, from setting up businesses offering cryonic suspension to those willing to pay for it, especially

the incurably ill (who may wish to be 'thawed out' when a treatment for their condition arrives).

Once a month, she goes to the Southern California Cryobank, a commercial sperm bank in Los Angeles, pays $38 for a syringe of sperm packed in dry ice, which she either takes back to the health center for insemination,

or takes home.

New York Times 20 July 1980, section 6, p. 23

Still others call for these pre-embryos to be cryopreserved--frozen for months, years and perhaps indefinitely. Once the pre-embryos are thawed out, they can be used as if they were fresh.

Washington Post 12 Apr. 1988, section Z, p. 14

Cryonicists...talk...of storing the brains of the frozen hopeful in the bodies of anencephalic babies.

Independent 1 Aug. 1988, p. 13

Mr Thomas Donaldson, 46, wants his head cryonically suspended in the anticipation that a way will be found to attach it to a healthy body and cure his brain disorder.

Daily Telegraph 3 May 1990, p. 12

A mathematician from Sunnyvale, California, has filed a lawsuit in America for the right to 'cryonic suspension' before death.

The Times 27 Oct. 1990, p. 3

crystal healing

noun (Health and Fitness)

An alternative therapy popular in New Age culture and based on the supposed healing power of pulsar crystals. Sometimes also called crystal therapy or crystal treatment.

Etymology: Formed by compounding: healing by crystals.

History and Usage: The idea of harnessing the healing power which--according to the crystal healer--emanates from some crystals is not new: its supporters claim that it goes back to

the practices of the ancient Greeks. However, it only gained any real popularity with the rise of the New Age movement in California. By the end of the eighties this idea had spread outside the US to other English-speaking countries but was still regarded by many as being on the fringe of serious healing.

For the esoteric set, crystal healing, extraterrestrials and transchanneling will be summer pursuits.

Los Angeles Times 29 May 1987, section 5, p. 4

Ben says something called crystal healing is one of the new fads brought in by what he calls 'weirdos' from the United States.

Sunday Mail Magazine (Brisbane) 10 Apr. 1988, p. 13

crystal meth

(Drugs) see ice

3.10 CT


(Health and Fitness) (Science and Technology) see CAT°

3.11 cursor...

cursor noun (Science and Technology)

A distinctive symbol on a computer screen (such as a flashing

underline or rectangle) which shows where the next character will appear or the next action will take effect, and which can usually be moved about by using a cursor key on the keyboard or a mouse.

Etymology: From Latin cursor 'runner' (the agent-noun formed on the verb currere 'to run'). When first used in English (until

the middle of the seventeenth century) the word meant a runner or messenger; it then came to be used for a part of a

mathematical instrument, etc. that moved backwards and forwards (for example, the transparent slide with a hair-line which forms part of a slide-rule). It was a logical step to its present use

in the computer age, since it is the cursor which 'runs' round the screen.

History and Usage: The first uses of the word cursor in computer technology are associated with the development of a mouse in the mid sixties, although the idea had been invented (and described using other names such as marker) by John Lentz of IBM in the fifties. Even though the cursor had first been thought of in connection with mouse technology, the principle of having a cursor which was controlled using keys on the keyboard was well-established in home computing in the late seventies,

before windows and mice (see WIMPý) became widespread. With the increased popularity of home computing and word-processing in

the eighties, cursor has passed from the technical vocabulary into everyday currency.


Cursor movement is particularly important in word


processing, and well laid-out cursor keys are a real




Susan Curran Word Processing for Beginners (1984), p. 31


For home use you may not mind if the cursor is a bit


slow to move on occasions.


Which? Nov. 1988, p. 524


(Youth Culture) see diss

cutting edge

(Science and Technology) see leading edge

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