Beyonce and "the dictionary"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Mar 9 06:09:37 UTC 2006

So let's see... "bootylicious" got an OED draft entry in Sep. 2004
(and it's also in the latest editions of the Oxford Dictionary of
English and the New Oxford American), but I guess Beyonce's people are
just hearing about it now. And they're telling her she invented it.
And tabloid "news" outlets take her at her word. Hey, she's Beyonce,
clearly an authority on "the dictionary"!

See <>,
which currently finds 26 articles like this one:

Beyonce's boost
March 09, 2006
CURVY women around the world will soon have an official term for their
bouncy butts, thanks to R'n'B diva Beyonce.
Bootylicious, the term coined by the former Destiny's Child star for
her own dangerous curves - and made famous by the hit single of the
same name - will reportedly be added to the dictionary.
But the Naughty Girl singer is not too impressed by her newfound
status as a wordsmith.
"I'm not very proud of that. It's in the dictionary - it's crazy," she
said to Britain's TV Hits magazine.
The 24-year-old, who is famous for her hot hip-shaking in film clips
for songs such as Crazy In Love, says she would have stuck it out and
put more thought into the term if she had known it would be recorded
in the lexicon.
"I wrote the song, but I wish there was another word I could have come
up with if I was going to have a word in the dictionary," she said to
the pop mag.
The budding linguist, who is dating rap king Jay-Z, hasn't yet had a
chance to see if the dictionary's definition is by the book, but she
has offered her own spin on the word.
"I don't know what it says in the dictionary but my definition is
beautiful, bountiful and bounce-able," she said.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list