Homer, the poet, gave us "The Odyssey." Homer, the pudgy cartoon dad on "The Simpsons," gave us "D'oh!" And as of this week, a command of the English language means that you understand them both.
The latest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary, announced Friday, include about 250 entries you didn't hear about in 10th-grade English. There's "Bollywood" and "boy band," "gangsta" and "Gulf War Syndrome," "retail therapy" and "road rage."
But the most ridiculous may be "D'oh!," the expression grunted with great regularity by dim-witted Homer on Fox's long-running "The Simpsons."
Here's the OED's definition: "Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish."
Jesse Sheidlower, OED's North American editor, defends the inclusion. "The OED is designed to reflect the English language as it's actually used," he says. "Our purpose is not to exclude words that we think are insufficiently impressive or formal."
But how exactly does language like "double-click," "macchiato" and "stalkerazzi" and phrases such as "feelgood factor," "on message" and "quality time" end up in the world's most comprehensive collection of English, anyway?
"We have a large team of readers who look at a wide variety of publications," says Sheidlower. "Whenever they come across something of interest, the examples get put in our database."
Their rule of thumb: When a term pops up in five separate places, they consider adding it to the dictionary, which now totals 40 volumes and is available only online.
In the case of "D'oh!," Sheidlower's staff has found 31 examples of it in official use. First popularized by "The Simpsons," the phrase has appeared repeatedly in many newspapers and magazines over the last decade. The OED researchers also found it in Anthony Buckeridge's 1952 novel "Jennings & Darbishire."
What other words are in the works? By the time the editors add another set of phrases to the OED three months from now, Sheidlower's team may have finished definitions for "jiggy," "pregnant chad" and the "wife-beater." The latter is a white undershirt worn mostly by beer-guzzling, overweight men on TV and in movies-and which was recently the subject of a large feature in fashion pages of the New York Times.
"After the article on the 'wife-beater' appeared," says Sheidlower, "I thought I'd better draft an entry."
Homer Simpson would definitely approve.