‘Isekai’ is Now in the Oxford Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (aka OED) performs an update to its repository four times each year. Like DLC for games, these quarterly patches can introduce new words, features, and definition changes. The first quarter of 2024 is almost here, and the OED has updated its language repository to add 23 Japanese words, including the popular anime and manga genre “isekai.”

As detected GuardThe OED’s latest update includes Japanese words from art, cuisine and other fields. “Japanese fried food appetizer”karaage“I Like” also made the list, “kintsugi“The Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by polishing it, highlighting the flaws. And also in the mixture “isekaiThe OED defines it as “a genre of Japanese science or fantasy fiction featuring a hero who is sent to or reincarnated in a different, strange, or unfamiliar world.” Also: anime, manga, video game, etc. in this genre.” Think anime and manga Sword Art Online (often referred to as the precursor to “isekai” although not technically accepted from a pure point of view) or animated film Super Mario Brothers Movie (can also be seen as “isekai”) and you will get a general idea. Basically, when a character wakes up in another world, the OED says you can call it an “isekai.”

Although the genre has two subgenres, the standard “isekai” or “other world” and “isekaitensei” or “reincarnation into another world”—in English, “isekai” is by far the more commonly used term. In certain geek fields, especially those revolving around anime and manga, “isekai” loosely refers to any story in which a character finds himself in a world that isn’t his own. It seems to be an increasingly popular story format across all forms of media, and as such you’ll often see it described as “isekai” in anime, gaming, and television.

We love increasing our vocabulary and learning new things, and we can all rejoice that “isekai” and many other Japanese words have now made their way into the OED. I mean, this Oxford Dictionary has been the leading repository of the English language for over a century. Weebs, if that isn’t “we did it” in a nutshell then I really don’t know what is.

You can check out the full list of newly added Japanese words to the OED below:

Oxford Dictionary March 2024 Japanese Vocabulary Update



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