Is “twerking” a real word? You bet your bumpin’ booty it is, as the Oxford Dictionaries Online just added the term that's trending this week thanks to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the 2013 MTV VMAs.
The Oxford English Dictionary added “twerk” as one of its new words Wednesday at Oxford Dictionaries Online. The addition was among several in the dictionary's latest quarterly update to its online version, with other new entries including “selfie,” “phablet” and “TL;DR.”
According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, “twerk” is an informal verb, defined as follows:
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[no object] informal
- dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance:j ust wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this song
- twerk it girl, work it girl
1990s: probably an alteration of work
As explained by Oxford Dictionaries Online’s definition, “twerk” was most likely a variation of “work” and was popularized by the hip-hop scene in the 1990s.
Katherine Connor Martin of Oxford Dictionaries explained how “twerk” earned its new entry.
"By last year, it had generated enough currency to be added to our new words watch list, and by this spring, we had enough evidence of usage frequency in a breadth of sources to consider adding it to our dictionaries of current English," she told the BBC.
While Oxford hypothesized as to the origins of “twerk,” its true derivation might never be known since it was more of a spoken word than a written one.
"There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure,” Martin said.
“Twerking” reached new heights when Miley Cyrus showed off the dance move during her performance Sunday night at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Robin Thicke. Cyrus teamed up with Thicke for a “Blurred Lines” performance that has created controversy throughout the entertainment world.
Martin said the incredulity sparked by Miley’s twerking is comparable to another dance craze from 50 years ago.
"The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker's song, 'The Twist,'" she told BBC.
If the written definition of "twerk" doesn't help you conceptualize the dance craze, you can view Miley's controversial performance below: