BIK Terminology—

Solving the terminology puzzle, one posting at a time

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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on March 22, 2011


What do you call a user of the Twitter short messaging service who is liked and admired by other users?

A tweetheart! And how do you use the term? Here is an example of how Belgian tennis player, Kim Clijsters, used it in a tweet from the Yahoo-Eurosport site: "Happy Australia day to all my Aussie tweethearts!" It earned her the Tweet of the Day.

I am not a Twitter user, or tweeter, but the terminology of Twitter has been the subject of many conversations. While this social media has been emerging at an incredible pace, some of the terminology around it is quite well developed. The glossary provided by the Twitter service contains the basics. But it doesn’t list all the good (and bad) terms that have sprung up around the service.

Some of the terms that don’t work so well are impossible to pronounce. The list in this article on contains designations, like Twitpocalypse, which is defined as “the moment when the identification number of individual tweets surpassed the capacity of the most common data type. The Twitpocalypse crashed a number of Twitter clients.” The motivation behind the name is clear, though.

This article* in the quarterly webzine of the Macmillan English Dictionaries, MED Magazine, has a very nice list of twitterisms. I would consider most of them quite well-motivated. If you don’t want to check out the link, here is another example: What group do people belong to whose tweets attract a large number of readers? The twitterati.

*BIK: Unfortunately this article was removed recently.


6 Responses to “Twitterisms”

  1. Marco said

    Interesting post.
    I am not sure about your definition of “tweetheart” though. You say “a user of the Twitter short messaging service who is liked and admired by other users”. I believe Kim Clijsters meant to play with the word “sweatheart”, to address to her fans/followers. It his the “tweethearts” that like and admire the tennis player.

    • Hi Marco,
      The definition is actually not mine, but comes from the Macmillion Dictionary (see the links behind “tweetheart” and the image). That said, by the definition, any celebrity using Twitter, such as Clijsters, surely is a “tweetheart.” In the context, she is simply charming her audience by calling them “tweethearts.”
      Interestingly, when I researched this a few weeks ago, the Macmillion had not listed a context. So, I researched one and found the Eurosport article. The Macmillion has since added it to their site as the best quote, too. And yet it is slightly confusing, as you point out, because of the charming going on. So, we should find a better context sample. I will look for one, although it might not be easy at this point, as Twitter terminology is, of course, still evolving.
      In fact, another comment on my Facebook site was “is this terminology at all?” That is a valid question; clearly, some of the words used on Twitter are not terminology. But when I saw “tweetheart” it struck me as a well-motivated term and the list of terms that are listed in the MED Magazine seem to indicate a systematic effort.
      Thank you for your comment.

      • Marco said

        Hi Barbara,
        Many thanks for your clarification. Sorry if I overlooked the link to the Macmillion Dictionary. That’s why I though the definition was yours (also because it was in quotation marks). Maybe Macmillion saw your post and used the quote you found on Eurosport 🙂

  2. Licia said

    I am fascinated by all the Twitter-related terms that are being invented in English; some are clearly fads but, as you pointed out, others like tweetheart are well motivated.

    According to the Urban Dictionary, tweetheart can mean “a person that does a great job tweeting via Twitter”, “someone who uses twitter a lot”, “a person who is much loved in Twitter” and “a sweetie or any well-liked individual in Twitter”; when used in its plural form, it is a “commonly used [word] to address followers on Twitter” or a way to describe “a couple who insists on having long sappy conversations on twitter to the annoyance of all who follow them”.

    I ran a couple of Twitter and Google Realtime searches on tweetheart to see it used in context and I’d say the most common usage is either as a “2.0 update” of the term of endearment or as a synonym for “Twitter friend”. There is also a #tweetheart hashtag but its meaning is less clear.

    Incidentally, there is also a novel called Tweet Heart.

    BTW, Twictionary is an interesting resource but it does not yet list tweetheart.

    • Marco said

      Thanks Licia, actually a “commonly used [word] to address followers on Twitter” was my first understanding/definiton for “tweethearts” as used by Kim Clijsters.

  3. […] Twitterisms « BIK Terminology— Tagged with: aussie • australia • belgian • clijsters • from-the-yahoo • […]

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