The word 'twerk' – describing the sexy dance now synonymous with Miley Cyrus - may date back to 1820, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Defined as dancing "in a sexually provocative manner, using thrusting movements of the bottom and hips while in a low, squatting stance", it is one of 500 new entries to the latest edition of the OED.
But researchers found that the word was first used as a noun in 1820, spelt 'twirk', to refer to a "twisting or jerking movement" or twitch. The verb is believed to have emerged by 1848, and the 'twerk' spelling was popularly used by 1901.
While the exact origin of the word is uncertain, it may be a blend of the words twist or twitch, and jerk.
Miley Cyrus' 2013 shockers
Miley Cyrus' 2013 shockers
1/15 Miley's tongue becomes an icon in itself
Think of Miley Cyrus and her tongue will likely be sticking out. The pop star told journalist Barbara Walters that her trademark pose came about because she 'gets embarrassed', which is interesting considering the rest of the images in this gallery. 'I don't know how to smile, and just be awkward, so I stick my tongue out, because I don't know what else to do,' she said. Twerk?
2/15 Miley dresses as a teddy bear and is anything but cute
A long way from her Hannah Montana Disney days, Miley Cyrus performed at the MTV Video Music Awards in August dressed in a teddy bear onesie. She described the outfit to Rolling Stone as her 'creepy sexy baby' look. Because 'baby' and 'sexy' aren't oxymorons at all Miley...
3/15 Miley twerks with Robin Thicke
It was the performance of the year, whichever way you look at it. Thicke invited Miley to duet with him on his 'rapey' hit 'Blurred Lines' and she accepted his invitation with relish. Cue nude latex bikini, simulated sex actions and of course, that now notorious twerk.
4/15 Miley gets 'sexy' all wrong
When confronted by the sight of Miley Cyrus's gyrating backside at the MTV awards, many of us felt a deep confusion. Was this just terrible dancing? An example of racist appropriation? Or a major setback for feminism? Or could it have been...all three?
5/15 Miley splits from Chris Hemsworth
The 'We Can't Stop' singer broke up with actor Hemsworth shortly after that VMAs debaucle. He wasn't impressed with her recent antics, apparently. Strange.
6/15 Miley gets hated on by David Cameron
David Cameron wasn't best pleased with Miley Cyrus after her twerking performance. The prime minister called her a 'bad example' and a 'bad role model'. 'I haven’t discussed twerking with Nancy [his daughter] yet, because I don’t think she has seen the video,' he told The Sun.
7/15 Miley declares herself 'one of the biggest feminists in the world'
The 21-year-old told Cosmopolitan: I’m a feminist in the way that I’m really empowering to women. I’m loud and funny, and not typically beautiful. I don’t actually walk around all day twerking with my tongue out dressed as a teddy bear.' She doesn't? Oh.
8/15 Miley feuds with Sinead O'Connor
All the 'Nothing Compares 2 U' singer was doing was looking out for Miley, warning her that the music industry will make a 'prostitute' of her, but the young'un took exception. Angered by the criticism of her media presentation, Miley posted a series of Sinead's old tweets about needing to find a psychiatrist. Mocking mental health? Really not cool.
9/15 Miley licks a sledgehammer
In her 'Wrecking Ball' video, Miley opted to appear naked, swinging on said ball, while licking a sledgehammer provocatively in another memorable scene. Unsurprisingly, the video rapidly went viral.
10/15 Miley's 'Wrecking Ball' swing is parodied
A bearded, nude, slightly overweight man threatened to out-viral the singer with an alarming parody of her video. Steve Kardynal used Chatroulette, the forum that randomly connects users with live webcams, to horrify viewers with his naked take on Miley's salacious original. The clip scored nine million hits in one day.
11/15 Miley twerks with a dwarf
During her performance at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2013, Miley traded Robin Thicke for a black latex-clad dwarf named 'Little Britney'. The dancer spanked Miley, who groped her breasts in return. Different.
12/15 Miley smokes a joint on-stage
While accepting her Best Video award for 'Wrecking Ball' at the same awards, Miley dug out a joint from her handbag and said, 'I couldn’t fit this award in my purse but I did find this, before flicking a lighter and smoking it.
13/15 Miley twerks with Santa Claus
The singer twerked with a Santa Claus and pulled a candy cane microphone from between his legs at KIIS FM's Jingle Ball in Los Angeles in early December. Then, just before Christmas, Miley tweeted a picture to her fans showing her wearing a Rudolph nose. The caption read "merry christmas #hoehoehoe".
14/15 Miley Cyrus writhes in bed sheets and simulates masturbation
The pop star's latest music video for 'Adore You' shows her writhing around in skimpy underwear, rubbing her body, squeezing her breasts and biting her lips suggestively, before slipping her hand into her knickers - all while filming herself. So not quite naked again then, but close.
15/15 Miley successfully sheds her Hannah Montana image
This is Miley Cyrus? Yes. Are you kidding? Nope. The pop star has been desperately trying to shed her squeaky-clean Disney image all year. But have her efforts gone too far now?
The dance move has been closely identified with Cyrus since her performance, alongside Robin Thicke, at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013 and 'twerk' first entered the online Oxford dictionary in the same year. But its roots lie in the New Orleans ‘bounce’ hip-sop scene of the 1990s.
Among the other new entries to the OED, are ‘twitterati’ – describing users of the social media service and ‘fo’ shizzle’, meaning ‘for sure’.
‘Meh’, an interjection expressing lack of enthusiasm, has also been included in the latest Oxford English Dictionary. The word is believed to have been first used in 1992, before being popularised by cult TV cartoon The Simpsons.
For a word to qualify, it must have been used in novels and newspapers for at least 10 years.
Fiona McPherson, senior editor of Oxford English Dictionary, said: "We are confident that it is the same origins as the dance. There has been constant use up into the present day to mean that same thing.
"I think it's quite spectacular, the early origins for it. We were quite surprised."
Ms McPherson said the new entries had "earned their place" in the history of the English language.
Additional reporting by Press AssociationReuse content