Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oxt: the new word that will make your life slightly simpler, forever

photosteve101

What does the phrase "next weekend" mean to you?

According to its definition, it should mean the the nearest or most immediate weekend — in other words, this weekend (July 19 and 20).

But "this weekend," naturally, can also mean "this weekend," leading some people to assume that by saying "next weekend," you might actually mean the weekend after this coming one.

Many people find themselves using a wordy, awkward phrase to try to clear up this ambiguity: "not this weekend but the weekend after."

Luckily, some people on the internet (specifically, Ivan Cash and Jeremy Knight) have come up with a succinct, elegant word to use instead: oxt.

The beauty of oxt

The idea is simple. Instead of asking your friend "do you want to get tacos next weekend?" — to which he or she might reply, "do you mean this weekend, or the one after?" — you can simply ask "do you want to get tacos oxt weekend?" (pronounced something like "oxed.")

"Oxt weekend," in other words, means "not this coming weekend but the one after." "This weekend" still means this weekend. The ambiguous term "next weekend" can be disregarded entirely.

The fine folks who coined oxt weekend also put together a handy interactive to clarify the term's definition in calendar form.

Screen_shot_2014-07-15_at_3.37.56_pm

Check out the interactive at Oxtweekend.com

The very first time you use the term with a friend, he or she might be confused and ask for clarification — just as if you'd said "next weekend."

But over time, "oxt weekend" will become much more precise than any word we currently have, and save you literally tens of seconds every week. Think of everything you could do with all that extra time!

And oxt isn't just for weekends

The real beauty of oxt is that it can refer to "not-this-coming-one-but-the-one-after" for all sorts of categories of things.

I'm going to make my own hot sauce oxt Thursday (that is, July 24). Take the oxt left to get to my house. Qatar is hosting the oxt World Cup. I think we should spend oxt Flag Day in Montana!

We could even use the compound "oxtday" to refer to the day after tomorrow. Several other languages, after all, have a particular word that refers to this commonly-used concept, but we don't so far.

So how can we make oxt happen?

Simple. Start using it.

People might not understand you at first. But over time, people in your social circle will understand it and begin using it themselves, because it's handy.

I know this from personal experience. I started using oxt in 2011. A search of my Gmail account now turns up 74 emails and chats with the word spread out evenly over time, about half of which were written by my friends, not me.

My friends use oxt when making plans because it's simpler than any other option — not because I told them to — and they've since passed it on to their own friends, family, and acquaintances.

Opponents of this idea will probably point out that it's just a random, made-up word. True. But oxt fills a niche, and random, made-up words enter our lexicon all the time.

Just last year, the Oxford Dictionaries Online added srsly, vom, and phablet, among many other words of uncertain utility.

Phablet was coined by marketers to describe devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note — basically, big phones that real people still call their "phone" in everyday life (can you imagine someone saying "Damn, I left my phablet at home"?). Vom and srsly are just arbitrarily contracted versions of vomit and seriously. They're slightly faster to write, but don't describe anything new.

There's nothing inherently wrong with these words — they're an example of how language constantly evolves over time based on how we use it. Every single word we say, in fact, was once a weird, made-up novelty, and only became "normal" because it caught on.

But if there's room for phablet, srsly, and vom in the English language, then there's certainly room for oxt.


Correction: this post originally referred to the Oxford English Dictionary, not the Oxford Dictionaries Online.

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