‘Twerking’ Goes Back Almost 200 Years, Oxford Dictionary Editors Say

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Miley Cyrus and a host of others, sorry, you guys didn’t invent “twerking”!

According to Oxford dictionary editors, its origins go back almost 200 years.

The provocative dance gained global fame thanks to an attention-grabbing performance by Miley Cyrus.


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The dictionary now describes twerking as dancing “in a sexually provocative manner, using thrusting movements of the bottom and hips while in a low, squatting stance.”

OED had previously listed the word, but it was referred to a twisting or jerking movement or twitch.

Researchers found it used as a noun with that meaning in 1820, spelt “twirk.” It became a verb by 1848, and the “twerk” spelling was popularly used by 1901.


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