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The Oxford Dictionary of New Words

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It's huge...and last week it became official: The Gallup Top 40 showed that House or House-derived music is occupying the whole Top 5.

Guardian 19 Oct. 1989, p. 26




abbreviation (Health and Fitness)

Short for hormone replacement therapy, a technique designed to relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms suffered by women during and after the menopause, by boosting oestrogen levels


Etymology: The initial letters of Hormone Replacement Therapy.

History and Usage: The treatment first became available in the late sixties and to begin with was usually known by its full name hormone replacement therapy; by the mid eighties it had proved very popular as a safe, long-term treatment for the worst effects of the menopause (in particular brittle bone disease), was widely promoted by famous or successful women who had benefited from it, and was generally known by the abbreviation HRT.

Oestrogen therapy (HRT) for women is increasingly prescribed to stave off post-menopausal symptoms such as brittle bones, thinning and wrinkled skin, falling hair,

loss of libido and energy.

Sunday Express Magazine 11 Feb. 1990, p. 45

No one knows for sure which women should receive hormone replacement therapy. The official line is that it is

necessary only for women who are at special risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. But no one knows exactly who these high-risk people are, so many women

play safe and opt for HRT anyway.

Practical Health Spring 1990, p. 11

8.8 HTLV, human immunodeficiency virus, human T-cell lymphocyte virus

HTLV, human immunodeficiency virus, human T-cell lymphocyte virus (Health and Fitness) see HIV

8.9 human shield...

human shield

noun (Politics) (War and Weaponry)

A person or group of people placed in the line of fire so as to fend off any kind of attack.

Etymology: Formed by compounding: a shield made up of a human or humans.

History and Usage: The idea of the human shield has been known for some time, and the phrase itself had appeared in print

before the end of the seventies. In the late eighties, there was a concentration of uses in connection with the situation in Lebanon. The greatest concentration of all, though, came in 1990-1 with President Saddam Hussein's holding of Western citizens in Kuwait and Iraq, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on

2 August 1990; some of these people were transferred to military and industrial installations in order to dissuade Western forces from attacking. The human shield policy in Iraq was reversed in December 1990 and most of the hostages were allowed to return to their own countries, but the term human shield was by that time very familiar both in the UK and in the US, and continued to be used in news reports in relation to the holding of

prisoners-of-war in the Gulf, and in other contexts. For

example, when the Red Army arrived in Lithuania in mid January 1991 to seek out draft-dodgers there and take control of

strategic buildings in Vilnius, Lithuanians were described as forming a human shield to defend those buildings. There is some variation in usage as regards whether it is the whole group of people who are thought of as forming a single human shield, or

whether each individual person is regarded as a human shield (in which case the term can be used in the plural).

Thirty-nine right-wing French MPs arrived yesterday from Paris to join the 'human shield' around Gen Aoun, who also received the unexpected 11th-hour support of 6,000 'Lebanese forces', or Phalange militiamen.

Financial Times 30 Nov. 1989, section 1, p. 4

Forty-one Britons and a number of other Europeans in Kuwait have been rounded up by the Iraqis, apparently as the first of the thousands of foreigners who were

waiting last night to be made a human shield for military and other installations.

Daily Telegraph 20 Aug. 1990, p. 1

Americans...reportedly were taken from the Mansour-Melia Hotel in Baghdad on the night of Oct. 29 and are now presumed to be 'human shields' at an undisclosed

strategic site in Iraq.

Washington Post 1 Nov. 1990, section A, p. 1

See also guestage

human wave

(Lifestyle and Leisure) see Mexican wave


noun (People and Society)

In media and young people's slang: a sexually attractive, ruggedly masculine young man; a male pin-up.

Etymology: A figurative sense development of the noun hunk, literally 'a large piece cut off from something (especially food)'; in this case, the development arises from an assessment of the man in question entirely from the point of view of physique (as though he were a piece of meat), in response to the

plethora of such words used by men about women. An earlier slang sense was 'a large (and clumsy or unattractive) person', but

this sense is now normally covered by hulk.

History and Usage: First used by jazz musicians in the forties and popular with college students in the US in the late sixties, hunk had spread to various other parts of the English-speaking world (including the UK, Australia, and South Africa) by the end of the seventies. During the eighties it enjoyed a fashion among tabloid journalists, along with the adjectives hunky and hunksome.

Jumping on the hunk of the month bandwagon is photographer Herb Klein with a 1985 calendar that gives you a different man every month.

Fair Lady (South Africa) 26 Dec. 1984, p. 11

Michael Patton pranced his hunky bod around.

Village Voice (New York) 30 Jan. 1990, p. 83

Girl fans will be seeing more of the hunk...in the top...soap.

News of the World 11 Feb. 1990, p. 5

hunt sab (Lifestyle and Leisure) (People and Society) see sab

8.10 hype...


(Lifestyle and Leisure) see glitzy

hyperprefix (Science and Technology)

In computing jargon: involving complex organization of text or other machine-readable media so that disparate sources are linked together and may be accessed simultaneously. Used especially in:

hypermedia, a method of structuring information in different media (text, graphics, sound, etc.) for presentation to an individual user in such a way that related items of information are connected and presented together;

hypertext, machine-readable text that does not form a single sequence or come from a single source, but is so structured that related pieces of text can be displayed together.

Etymology: The Greek prefix huper- 'above, beyond'; these approaches to machine-readable media go beyond the concept of searchability to present the user with a highly structured and interconnected resource.

History and Usage: Hypertext and hypermedia are concepts which computer scientists have been working on since the sixties, but which were perhaps too far ahead of their time to gain much popular currency until the eighties. Then, with the general

public becoming increasingly computer-literate and demanding ever more sophisticated sources of information, and the necessary hardware becoming ever cheaper to produce, hypertext

and hypermedia (sometimes called multimedia) were presented very much as the next step after the database and the personal

computer, CD player, etc.

Because different types of data...can be tied together, hypertext and hypermedia are important in multimedia systems, where they can provide an innovative way to navigate the different data on a multimedia system.

Daily Telegraph 9 Apr. 1990, p. 29

Two aspects of the Active Book transcend the most useful Filofax: hyperlink and multimedia.

Independent 9 Apr. 1990, p. 18




noun (Drugs)

In the slang of drug users, a crystalline form of the drug methylamphetamine or 'speed', smoked (illegally) for its

stimulant effects.

Etymology: The name arises from the drug's almost colourless, crystalline appearance during the manufacturing process, like crushed ice. As one Australian newspaper has pointed out, the once innocent question 'Would you like some ice?', asked at a party, has taken on an entirely new meaning. In its prepared form, ice may be white, yellow, or even brown.

History and Usage: The drug first appeared with this name in Hawaii, and by 1989 had spread to the mainland US. Like the smokable cocaine derivative crack, it produces a sustained 'high', is extremely addictive, and has a considerable street value. It is smoked through a glass pipe called an incense burner, but unlike incense it is almost odourless, and so can be smoked in public with little risk of detection. Older names in the US for essentially the same drug include glass and crystal or crystal meth.

Like those smoking crack, ice users initially suffer weight loss and insomnia because of the stimulation effects.

Daily Telegraph 3 Oct. 1989, p. 11

The ice problem is so bad that crack cocaine pales by comparison.

The Times 7 Nov. 1989, p. 8

'However shit your life is, ice, at first, makes things better...' is how one addict of the new American horror drug ice, describes its effects.

Sky Magazine Apr. 1990, p. 91


noun (Science and Technology)

In computing jargon, a small symbolic picture on a computer screen, especially one that represents an option or function that can be selected by moving the pointer and clicking (see click) on the icon.

Etymology: A specialization of sense: in its original sense an icon is any representation or picture of something (from Greek eikon 'likeness')--probably the best known examples are the religious pictures used in the Eastern Orthodox churches.

History and Usage: The icon first started to appear widely in the early eighties, when computer manufacturers were trying to make computer screens more user-friendly to maximize on the rapid growth of the personal-computer market. The first icons typically allowed the computer screen to appear like a familiar desk-top, with the various files and tools available set out upon it in the form of small symbols (for example, a pile of

index cards bearing a filename for each of the files which could be opened, a pencil or paintbrush for a program which could be used to 'paint' on the screen, etc.). The processes of computing were thus made to appear as similar as possible to the physical use of files, pencils, etc. and the need to use an unfamiliar command language was minimized. As the use of windows (see window°) developed during the eighties, whole windows of text could be 'shrunk' to the size of an icon so as to make room on the screen for other windows: the verb iconify and the adjective iconified were derived from icon to refer to this facility. In

the late eighties, a series of sound equivalents for the icon was tried, with different audio messages representing different

functions and operations. This concept was punningly named the earcon (reinterpreting icon as eye-con).

Newwave software, shown here, is one of several that use icons...to represent different applications.

The Times 8 Dec. 1987, p. 31

These 'earcons', a sound equivalent of icons, would tell the user how much memory is left, which task it is performing and how close it is to finishing.

New Scientist 23 June 1988, p. 46

9.2 IKBS


(Science and Technology) see intelligent°

9.3 immune...

immune adjective (Science and Technology)

Of a computer system: protected against hacking or against destructive software devices such as the virus and worm.

Etymology: A transferred sense of immune, which is normally used of a living thing in the sense 'able to resist infection'; compare INF.

The Prolok system is actually a mixture of hardware and software protection. It is immune to the fiendish bit copiers.

Economist 10 Sept. 1983, p. 71

immunocombining form (Health and Fitness)

The combining form of the adjective immune, used in a wide variety of medical terms associated with the immune system, especially:

immunocompetence, the capacity for a normal immune response; also as an adjective immunocompetent;

immunocompromised, having an impaired immune system, especially as a result of illness;

immunodeficiency, immunodepression, a state of reduced immune defences in the body; also as adjectives immunodeficient, immunodepressed.

History and Usage: All of these terms have existed in the medical literature for some time; all came to prominence in less technical sources as a result of the growth of Aids during the eighties and the attendant spurt of interest in the workings of the immune system. Immunodeficiency is most familiar to non-specialists as part of the name of human immunodeficiency virus (see HIV), the virus which has been associated with the development of Aids.

They were further down the road than Phylly was. They weren't as tough or as immunocompetent.

Michael Bishop Unicorn Mountain (1988; 1989 ed.), p. 310

The categories of those who most need to take care--infants, the pregnant, etc--now include 'the immuno-compromised'.

Guardian 13 July 1989, p. 23

impro noun (Lifestyle and Leisure)

A form of live entertainment based on improvisation and interaction with the audience.

Etymology: Formed by abbreviating improvisation to its first two syllables.

History and Usage: Impro has been a colloquial abbreviation of improvisation among actors for some time, but it was only after the publication in 1979 of Keith Johnstone's book Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre that impro as a basis for live entertainment was developed into a theatrical genre in its own right. In the second half of the eighties it became a popular

form of fringe entertainment, allowing the audience to dictate the course of events by suggesting themes, developments, etc., and this idea was even incorporated into television shows.

'Impro' stands for 'improvisation' and 'impro' audiences stand for an awful lot.

Independent 20 Dec. 1989, p. 25

The craze of 'impro' is spreading from the TV out into the public domain with the Canal Cafe Theatre putting on Improfest all this week.

Evening Standard 21 May 1990, p. 38

9.4 incendiary device...

incendiary device

(War and Weaponry) see device

incense burner (Drugs) see ice

inclusive adjective (People and Society)

Of language: non-sexist; deliberately phrased so as to include both women and men explicitly rather than using masculine forms to cover both.

Etymology: A specialization of sense from the original and dominant use, 'having the character of including'.

History and Usage: The arguments for non-sexist language are as old as the feminist movement, but the name inclusive language became fashionable in the late seventies in the US and in the

mid eighties in the UK. It has been used particularly in relation to the language of the Bible and of Christian worship,

in which much of the imagery is masculine. In The Word for Us: the Gospels of John and Mark, Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians restated in Inclusive Language (1977), Joann Haugerud prepared the ground for inclusive language in Bible

translations, expressing the hope that 'a taste of wholeness

will encourage others to work toward providing a whole Bible in inclusive language', and an Inclusive Language Lectionary was published in the US from 1983. Although many churches have now adopted a policy of using inclusive language wherever possible, the move has not been well received by all members of congregations, especially when it means altering familiar words

in the liturgy, hymns, etc.

As in the first edition of An Inclusive Language Lectionary, the word 'God' is often used where the pronouns 'He' and 'Him' appeared before.

US News & World Report 17 Dec. 1984, p. 70

'Inclusive language' does not have to mean replacing 'Almighty Father' with an (equally problematic) 'Almighty Mother'.

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