I posted here a question asking how to say "kilig" (a Filipino word that means a feeling of joy, agitation, or happiness felt when someone you fancy, love, or like makes an unexpected gesture of sweetness) in the shortest way possible in English. See the post here: Word/phrase to describe the kind of joy that you feel when someone you like or love shows you an act of kindness or love Someone answered that I can now actually use "kilig" in my sentences because the word is now in oxforddictionaries.com.

When I checked, "kilig" is now indeed on the website. But when I checked other online dictionaries, "kilig" wasn't there.

So now my question is, how do I know that a borrowed word like "kilig" is now widely accepted as an English word? Is seeing the borrowed word in one online dictionary like oxforddictionaries.com enough?

  • Primarily opinion based. – Ahmed Sep 4 '18 at 10:51
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    I'm afraid there is no such thing as "an official English word". – Colin Fine Sep 4 '18 at 10:53
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    There is an 'Interpretation Act' (1978) See Hansard which defines how the British Parliament interpret the English language. And there is Bill 16 wherein the Canadian Government will pass legislation requiring certain pronouns to be used. But apart from that, English usually develops through English speakers just speaking it. There may be an 'Official' to tell us, in the future. – Nigel J Sep 4 '18 at 11:31
  • There are no definitive criteria; 'wordness' is a weird mix of consensus and individual reaction.But there are some clues but never any guarantees. If the word is followed by an explanation, it is probably still foreign. If it is presented in quotes, still foreign. 'Schadenfreude' is often presented without quotes but looks so German (and the spelling to pronunciation is so German) that I don't think it will ever be native English. But 'pundit' is so naturally pronounceable as English and looks English even though it is Hindi (contrast with 'guru'). – Mitch Feb 14 '19 at 13:53
  • @Ahmed This is not POB. It has a clear answer which is that the demarcation line is not strict. – Mitch Feb 14 '19 at 13:54

There is no one authority for the English language.

English has no Académie française, and, even if there were such a central regulatory body, language would go its own way regardless.

In that sense, there is no answer to the exact question you ask; as one commentator on your question puts it: "I'm afraid there is no such thing as 'an official English word.' "

How to determine if a word has 'made it' into English

Fair warning: there is a large dash of my own opinion in this - apply salt liberally.

You have to look to consensus. Dictionaries are the primary way to do this so you're really going about it the right way. Look at the big names in Britain and the States (Cambridge, for one, Merriam-Webster another). See what a OneLook search turns up... and don't trust Urban Dictionary!

In all instances read the entry carefully. Just getting a 'hit' isn't enough without a thorough check and, as we're looking for consensus, one hit from one dictionary may not be enough. Consider that a word can make it into the dictionary then subsequently fade from popular usage. Also all dictionaries have their own individual biases.

Determining consensus is complicated by the reality that many disparate and diverse communities have made English their own, and brought their own baggage with them.

Is kilig a fully-fledged English word?

In this specific case, kilig is explicitly listed as South East Asian in the dictionary you refer to.

kilig adjective, SE Asian

1 (in the Philippines) causing or characterized by a feeling of exhilaration or elation.

‘the fans went wild with the kilig moments they shared on stage’

‘it's their most kilig movie to date’

1.1 (of a person) exhilarated or elated by an exciting or romantic experience.

‘I get kilig every time I hear this song’

By inference, it's not in the 'common core' of English; the lack of results from your own dictionary trawl would tend to agree with that assessment.

Is it going to make it in? I have no idea. Is kilig being used outside the Philippines? Has it made to, say, Singapore or Hong Kong? If it hasn't got that far, it almost certainly won't fly in the UK, Canada, India or the US, for instance, nor among the many people globally who use English as a second language or lingua franca.

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  • Thanks a lot for this useful answer. Now I believe the safest way is to just use English terms that describe what kilig really means (esp. if my readers are not Filipinos), considering that such word hasn't reached popular-use level yet. – Jonas Sergio Sep 7 '18 at 2:30

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