Lotteryisms win instant acceptance

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The Independent Online
DECCA AITKENHEAD

There will be little hope of forgetting it all for an instant when the next English dictionary editions are published. "Lotteryisms" - new words and meanings derived from the National Lottery, such as "scratch card", "rollover", "Oflot" and "instant" - will all appear in the new volumes, enshrining the lottery's impact on our national consciousness.

A scratch card, as defined by the new Chambers English Dictionary, due out in August, will be: "A form of lottery card with a thin opaque film, which is scratched to reveal the allocated numbers printed beneath." Collins and the Oxford English dictionaries will carry similar additions.

If new dictionary entries are the words that speak for their times, then lotteryisms suitably communicate the past year in Britain. Explaining the decision to include "scratch card", the Chambers editor, Martin Mellor, said: "These days dictionaries follow the lead of the general public. This is a word that is in common usage and it seems that it is here to stay. We try to reflect the true nature of language without being too politically correct about it."

As well he might, having added "politically correct" to the official English lexicon in the previous Chambers dictionary update last year. Other entries in 1994 included "date rape", "needle banks", "car jacking" and "ethnic cleansing".

"Yuppie" and "bonk" were quintessential Eighties entries. Now 1995 will be recorded as the year of the rollover.

"It's quite right that formal institutions should recognise something that 30 million people play every week. The lottery has become even more talked about than the weather - and in this country, that's saying something," said a Camelot spokeswoman. "We've got snow all over Britain - but what people are talking about is next week's rollover."

For such a seemingly frivolous subject, lotteryisms are grimly literal. The lottery is proving a serious affair - pounds 5bn has been spent on tickets since its launch in November 1994, and next week's rollover jackpot will be an estimated pounds 20m.

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