Yesterday evening the word "twerk" was added to the online Oxford Dictionary. A text of biblical importance for users of the king's English, the OED defining this word will introduce it to millions of new humans just waiting to wring their hands like they were remembering the first time they saw Elvis.
The word has experienced unprecedented growth in its popularity all this year, in large part because of Miley Cyrus's campaign of ratchetness. (If you're interested in the problematic aspects of her behavior, here's some reading material.) This includes her twerking in a unicorn costume, twerking at a Juicy J show, and twerking in a music video for her new song "We Can't Stop." The campaign peaked with her VMAs performance last Sunday, when she performed that new song at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Robin Thicke was there, too, dressed as Michael Keaton's character Beetlejuice from the movie Beetlejuice.
This word has a long history. By no means is the following a complete history of the word's use. No one can provide that. Nope, this is just a timeline tracking the word's likely contact with white listeners. (Just like me! Sorry.)
This is a Timeline of White People's Awareness of Twerking.