Mattar Paneer is Now an Official English Word

Finding myself at a loose end the other day, I started perusing the Oxford English Dictionary.

Since the OED fancies itself as the “Definitive Record of the English Language,” I feel compelled to browse through it occasionally lest I miss something big.

Earlier this month, the OED added a big bunch of new words including one that should make Indians happy.

Altogether, I counted 86 new words in the September update (the 55th). They include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, interjections and verbs.

Here are some of the interesting new words in the OED with their meaning, pronunciation and a brief background of their first use:

* Mattar Paneer (noun)

As most Indians would know, Mattar Paneer is a popular North Indian curry made of green peas and paneer cheese in a delicious sauce of tomatoes, onions and Indian spices.

Mattar Paneer Enters OED, ©

According to the OED, the first documented use of Mattar Paneer in a leading English publication was in a issue of Life magazine in 1964.

1964  Life 10 July 12/3   The rogan josh Bhopali, Goa prawn curry and mutter paneer Jaipure, all spicy enough to stimulate the most jaded palate.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /ˌmʌtə pəˈnɪə/ , U.S. /ˌmədər pəˈnɪ(ə)r/’s usage – A good Mattar Paneer is hard to find in America these days given the current obsession of Indian chefs with Dum Biryani.

Here are a few other English food words of Indian origin – Curry, Chutney, Mulligatawny, Masala, Rasam, Sambar, Conjee, Huldee/Huldi, Khana, Thali, Brinjal and Atta.


* Orgasmatron (noun)

Before you start getting too excited, let me warn you that Orgasmatron is not a device you can buy at Best Buy or crowd-fund its development at Kickstarter.

An orgasmatron is a hypothetical device used to generate orgasms.

Apparently, the word Orgasmastron was first used four decades back by Woody Allen and M. Brickman in the film Sleeper  –  We’ll use the Orgasmatron.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /ɔːˈɡazmətrɒn/ , U.S. /ɔrˈɡæzməˌtrɑn/’s usage – The sexploits of Swami Nityananda suggests he has no need for an orgasmatron.


* Dementalizing (adjective)

Here’s how the OED defines dementalizing  – That deprives a person of the capacity for thought; that disturbs mental equilibrium or has a detrimental effect on the mind; (also) that disregards the mental quality or attributes of another person.

The dictionary says use of dementalizing is rare. But that’s no reason for us to shy away from the word.

The first recorded use of dementalizing is in 1830.

1830   R. C. Sands in M. R. Mitford Stories Amer. Life II. 315   The deteriorating and dementalising effects which Jacobinism, gunpowder, and the Encyclopædia had had upon the masses of intellect in that section of the globe.

1840   H. Mann Lect. Educ. 18   Fear is one of the most debasing and dementalizing of all the passions.’s usage – The sight of Tamil film star Ajith Kumar on the screen has a dementalizing effect on discerning viewers with sensitive souls.


* Non se ipse (adjective)

I love this word for it describes my frequent state.

If you schmucks are still guessing, it means ‘not oneself’ as a result of being drunk.

The OED mavens write that the word is often used as an euphemistic substitution for tipsy.

The dictionary mentions the first use of the word was in the 18th century:

?1737   H. Carey Dragon of Wantley ii. 15   Insulting Gipsey, You’re surely tipsy, Or non se ipse, To chatter so.

1778   Charms of Chearfulness 74   Non se ipse, d’ye say? what’s that to your lay? In plain English, the parson was tipsy.’s usageIf my posts have become infrequent of late, it’s because I’m often non se ipse thanks to the numerous ‘discount liquor’ stores in my neighborhood.


* Ooh-wee (interjection)

A word that expresses astonishment, admiration or dismay.

The OED notes that the first usage of this word dates back to 1910.

1910   Muskogee (Okla.) Times-Democrat 31 May 3/3 (caption)    ‘Yes, Willie, grandma is ninety-one today.’ ‘Ooh-ee! Whose whisky did you use grandma?’

Pronunciation:  Brit. /ˌuːˈwiː/ , U.S. /ˌuˈwi/’s usage – Ooh-wee, Shah Rukh Khan’s sub-mental garbage Chennai Express has become a blockbuster in India.


* Arabophile (noun and adjective)

Noun – A person who is well disposed towards Arabs or Arab culture; a supporter of Arab interests.

1882   A. M. Broadley Last Punic War II. xxxix. 200   M. De la Mothe, an ardent and eloquent Arabophile.

Adjective – favourably disposed or sympathetic towards Arabs or Arab culture; supportive of Arab interests.

1912   tr. G. Saint-Paul in Scribner’s Mag. Mar. 263/2   French domination in North Africa will either be arabophile, or it will not be at all.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /əˈrabəfʌɪl/ , U.S. /əˈræbəˌfaɪl/’s usage – It’s safe to say that George W.Bush will never be accused of being an Arabophile.


* Fetology (noun)

A branch of medicine concerned with the study of the growth and development of the fetus and with the diagnosis and treatment of its diseases.

1965   Dunkirk-Fredonia (N.Y.) Evening Observer 13 Jan. 20/7   The precedent-setting operation [sc. transfusion of blood to an unborn child]..helped to pioneer a new field of medicine known to doctors as ‘Fetology’.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /fiːˈtɒlədʒi/ , U.S. /fiˈtɑlədʒi/’s usage –  The growth of fetology is a boon to Indian doctors looking for new avenues to squeeze more money from their patients.


* Low-lifer (noun)

Lowlife, contemptible person

1902   N.Y. Times 26 July (Saturday Rev. section) 4/1   It must be remembered..that no ‘low lifer’ ever utters a sentence which does not include the words ‘wot t’ell’.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /ˈləʊlʌɪfə/ , U.S. /ˈloʊˌlaɪfər/’s usage – If there’s one thing the Indian subcontinent will never be short of, it’s low-lifers like Salman Khan.


I can’t wait for the day when the OED adds Chutia/Chutiya to describe any slimy rascal of South Asian origin. 😉

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