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OED recognizes the Twitter meaning of 'tweet'

The British dictionary broke its rules in adding the more modern definition because the term is "catching on."

Screenshot by Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

Tweet this: The Oxford English Dictionary has expanded the definitions of "tweet," "follow," and "follower" to include their social media meanings.

"The noun and verb tweet (in the social-networking sense) has just been added to the OED," Oxford English Dictionary Chief Editor John Simpson said in a statement. "This breaks at least one OED rule, namely that a new word needs to be current for 10 years before consideration for inclusion. But it seems to be catching on."

The change officially went into effect Thursday when the OED released its June update with 1,200 revised and added words. The expanded definitions of the Twitter co-opted words reflect a new reality in social media-inspired language.

"There has been, for example, a threefold increase in instances of the word tweet between 2006 and 2007 (when Twitter began), and by 2012, this had increased to 50 times," the OED said on its blog.

The new OED-recognized definitions of tweet, follow, and follower are as follows:

  • Tweet (n): A posting made on the social networking service Twitter.
  • Tweet (v): To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter.
  • Follow (v): To track the activities or postings of (a person, group, etc.) by subscribing to their account on a social media website or application.
  • Follower (n): A person who follows a particular person, group, etc., on a social media Web site or application.

The esteemed British dictionary also demonstrated its willingness to bend to digital vernacular by adding new terms such as "big data," "flash mob," "mouseover," "crowdsourcing," "redirect," and "e-reader."