The Oxford English Dictionary Just Got 'Woke'

Woke: Alert to injustice in society, especially racism.

The Oxford English Dictionary Just Got 'Woke'
Photo Credit: Photo: Vanity Fair

| June 27 2017,

12:11 am

The term "woke" has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The definition of the word, previously used to mean "awake," has adopted an expanded definition meaning "alert to injustice in society, especially racism." After monitoring the usage of the word and conducting a careful study of its etymology, the Oxford English Dictionary announced the change in June as part of its quarterly update.

Katherine Martin, head of Oxford's U.S. Dictionaries, traced the use of the word "woke" in its current, informal context back to the 1960's. While the term may very well have been born out of that politically awakened decade, black millennials are likely to credit Erykah Badu for popularizing the word in her 2008 song Master Teacher, where the phrase "stay woke" was used to define an ideal, if unrealistic, state of racial harmony is far from reality. The slang term has long been a rallying cry calling for awareness and consciousness. Used in the soulful chorus of Childish Gambino's recently platinum-certified hit song Redbone, which was featured in the box-office smash horror film Get Out, the phrase "stay woke" has graduated from being synonymous with black activism to inclusion in everyday internet slang.

If predecessors like "bootylicious," "bling bling," and "jiggy" are any indicator, the term "woke" may have officially been put to sleep by OED.  #RIPWOKE




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