There are certain words associated with the late Mrs Thatcher and, not surprisingly, this connection is reflected in the Oxford English Dictionary. Iron Lady went into the Dictionary in 1993, with the first citation dating from 1976. Under the entry for Society, Mrs Thatcher’s oft-quoted belief that “There is no such thing as society” is there. It is not attributed to her, however, but to Tony Blair in a 1988 Times article. One of the definitions of wet is “a politician with liberal or middle-of-the-road views on controversial issues (often applied to members of the Conservative Party opposed to the monetarist policies of Margaret Thatcher)”, but the word had been used with this sense since the beginning of the 20th century.
Mrs Thatcher was responsible for the change in verb form – from a noun to a verb – of the word handbag, and of the introduction into the Dictionary of handbagging. It is described by the OED as ‘jocular’ and is defined: “to subject to a forthright verbal assault or to strident criticism; to coerce in this way”. She is also directly responsible for the coining (by others) of the word leaderene.
There are more than twenty other words in the OED where Margaret Thatcher is mentioned in a citation. Some don’t come as a surprise, for instance, at the Schoolmarm entry, she is described as having “the bearing of a school ma'am, an inability to suffer fools”, and she is also given as an example of an agelast (someone without a sense of humour). At Abominator she is mentioned in a Guardian Weekly quotation as someone who is “a sincere abominator of the Soviet system of government”. Thatcher’s Britain, Thatcher’s child, Thatcheresque, Thatcherism and Thatcherite are also in the OED.
Unrelated to her political career she appears in the entry for Chemical (referring to her original career, when she supposedly invented ‘whippy’ ice cream) and also in the entry for Scotophobia. No, she was not afraid of the Scots – scotophobia is a fear or dislike of the dark, and Mrs Thatcher apparently suffered from it.