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Oxford English Dictionary extends definition of ‘woke’

If you’ve attend a social justice protest or watched an episode of “Dear White People,” you’ve likely heard the word “woke.” But the term wasn’t being used to refer to sleep. It was being used to describe political awareness, and the Oxford English Dictionary is taking note. 

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This week, the organization has expanded the meaning of “woke.” 

It no longer just defines the word as the past participle of “wake.” It’s now also an adjective that means “alert to injustice in society, especially racism.”

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“By the mid-20th century, woke had been extended figuratively to refer to being ‘aware’ or ‘well informed’ in a political or cultural sense,” Oxford told The Huffington Post. “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.’”

The dictionary also noted that the word was popularized by an Erykah Badu song from 2008 titled “Master Teacher.” She sings, "I stay woke” in association with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Woke” isn’t the only African American slang word to be added. “Bootylicious,” “bling bling” and “twerk” have also been included in the dictionary.

The word has been updated on Oxford’s website and in its upcoming print edition.

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