Some of the new words that appear in the 11th edition of Chambers Dictionary have been making the news this week. The 10th edition was published only in 2006, so it shows how quickly English is changing. Most of the new entries are not new words as such, but new collocations - carbon footprint, credit crunch, nail bar, social networking and wardrobe malfunction, for instance. There are brand-new words, too, such as diarize, electrosmog and botnet, plus acronyms, which sound like old words, but have completely new meanings, such as WAG and HIP.
The British press still tends to put 'wardrobe malfunction' in quotation marks. It seems to be more a US expression, possibly because the term was coined as a result of the notorious Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake Super Bowl incident in 2004. There were wardrobe malfunctions before that, of course. One of the most famous happened in Croydon, South London, in January 1965, when singer PJ Proby's trousers split on stage. The incident (or incidents - it happened in Luton a few nights later too - hmmm, very fishy!) caused a stir but no new word was coined. Anyway, there was no internet to disseminate new words quickly, as happens now.
WAG, on the other hand, is a British term. The word was originally coined in the plural, but soon began to be used in the singular, even though you can't be a wife and girlfriend in the singular (well, not of the same player, anyway). The acronym for 'wife or girlfriend' would be unacceptable. WAG is used as an adjective now, too, as in 'a WAG lifestyle'. I don't think Chambers' definition ' the wife or girlfriend of a professional sportsman, esp one of the group accompanying a travelling team' fully gets across the undertones of the word WAG, since not all sportsmen's partners are WAGs. To be a WAG, you have to love shopping, partying, and being in the limelight. I'm not sure that you even have to be the partner of a sportsman. Nereida Gallardo, the Spanish model, is still called a WAG in the tabloids, despite having recently been dumped by Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Chambers is a great dictionary to have on your bookshelf. It packs more words in than most dictionaries of its size, including many Scottish and northern English examples. It is renowned for the humour of its definitions. I like Mullet - 'a hairstyle that is short at the front, long at the back, and ridiculous all round', and Channel-surf - 'to switch rapidly between different television channels in a forlorn attempt to find anything of interest'.
Chambers is quirky in other ways, too. It contains the entry 'percolin', defined as 'a small, possibly mythical bird, supposedly a cross between a partridge and a quail'. No other dictionary has this word, and an internet search doesn't help, either. The Association of British Scrabble Players describes it as 'a bird unknown to ornithology and apparently dreamed up by the staff of Chambers!' (http://www.absp.org.uk/words/mythbeasts.html).