Friday, 4 July 2008

A custard cream? That's neet!

The latest edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published this week, and there have been a spate of articles about some of the new words that are in the dictionary for the first time, including custard cream and neet. The OED is a repository of the words we use - it's a descriptive rather than a prescriptive publication. Our current preoccupations with the economy are therefore well represented, with sub-prime, non-dom, and boiler room all getting in for the first time.
The regular updates of the OED are ignored or mocked by people who have an authoritarian attitude to language (and probably to everything else in their lives).
I'll let you look up the new financial words for yourselves, but I'll explain that a custard cream is a type of biscuit (cookie, if you speak American English) with a vanilla cream filling. It's the iconic snack offered to donors after giving blood, so much so that the National Blood Service in the UK have a sticker with the slogan "I'd give my right arm for a custard cream"!
A neet, on the other hand is less tasty then a cream-filled biscuit. It's an acronym to describe a young person "not in employment, education, or training".

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