Twerking has been having a moment as of late (or, some might say, a last dance), and, to many, Miley Cyrus's VMA twerk-a-thon was the dance technique's giant coming out (of a bear) party. The performance was one of the leading stories on CNN on Monday, and the following day ABC News became a trending topic on Twitter for its scientific analysis of what is, more accurately, a physics-defying art. This weekend, Diplo plans to set a twerking world record.
But the true proof that twerking is no longer a niche phenomenon confined to knowing connoisseurs is that now it's in the books as an official part of the English language. The AP reported today that Oxford Dictionary, which publishes the Oxford Dictionary Online and the Oxford English Dictionary, has added a definition for the verb "twerk."
No longer will aspiring spelling bee winners have to look up Twerk Team videos on YouTube—now they can simply pull up the ol' ODO and look the word up, just like their teachers always told them to do. The full definition is listed as:
Pronunciation: /twəːk/ verb [no object] informal dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance
Even better, ODO provides sample sentences and a brief history of the word's origins, which it attributes to a variation of the word "work" dating back to the 1990s. The sentences listed as examples are "just wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this song" and "twerk it girl, work it girl."
Surprisingly not listed are such visionary examples as the lyrics to Ying Yang Twins' "Whistle While You Twurk" or the more contemporary stylings of Busta Rhymes' "Twerk It." However, there's no question Oxford Dictionaries did their research. The organization's Katherine Connor Martin gave the AP what is surely the most thorough etymology of the word ever compiled:
"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. We think the most likely theory is that it is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to 'work it.' The 't' could be a result of blending with another word such as twist or twitch."
Ha! You thought your "twerking hard or hardly twerking" pun was funny? Even Britain's leading etymologists think it's obvious! Try harder!
More importantly, though, this makes it official: Twerking is appropriate material for conversation in Buckingham Palace. That's right. We're, like, one step away from the Queen of England knighting Juicy J.
Tell your teachers; tell the foreign exchange students. Twerking is dead. Long live twerking.
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