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1. “Big-Up” on the Rise

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As OUP lexicographers monitor the linguistic radar for new words and meanings, sometimes we find a usage that appears novel but has actually been kicking around for quite a while. Consider the verb big-up, meaning ‘to praise or promote; to raise the profile of.’ Three recent quotes from American media sources give you a sense of how it’s being used these days. Here’s the actress Jaime Pressly critiquing the show “Ugly Betty”: “They’re purposefully big-upping the ugly fat girl to make everybody feel great, but it also glamorizes the fact that people are getting plastic surgery because they can.” The music blog Idolator had this to say about an “American Idol” contestant: “This is actually the second time that Hennessy has been big-upped by the Idol powers that be,” adding, “is big-upping this girl really the best strategy to boost ratings?” And finally a profile of Staten Island’s Budos Band notes: “Legit blogs like Brooklyn Vegan and online publications like Pitchfork and RollingStone.com have also big-upped the band.” This might be the verb of the moment in hip, pop-culture-savvy varieties of American English, but it already has a long history in Caribbean and British English.
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