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Black Lives Matter: Oxford Broadens Definition of 'Woke'

It seems like the English dictionary just ‘woke up’ and is getting political.

Updated:June 28, 2017, 11:36 AM IST
Black Lives Matter: Oxford Broadens Definition of 'Woke'
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New Delhi: It seems like the English dictionary just ‘woke up’ and is getting political.

The Oxford English Dictionary has expanded the definition of ‘woke’, in both online and print mediums, saying that ‘woke’ has been used as “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”

The word is already a past participle of the verb ‘wake’. Oxford notes that the word has more recently become “prominent in general American use.”

“In the past decade, that meaning has been catapulted into mainstream use with a particular nuance of ‘alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice’, popularized through the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by Erykah Badu, in which the words ‘I stay woke’ serve as a refrain, and more recently through its association with the Black Lives Matter movement, especially on social media.,” Oxford explained.

“This well-established but newly prominent usage of woke has become emblematic of the ways in which black American culture and language are adopted by non-black people who don’t always appreciate their full historical and cultural context. It is therefore of particular interest that the earliest citation for woke, adj. in the figurative sense comes from a 1962 article by the African-American novelist William Melvin Kelley in the New York Times, entitled ‘If you’re woke, you dig it’, which describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time,” the dictionary further explained.
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