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tweetup also tweet-up

noun [countable]

a meeting of two or more people who know each other through the Twitter short messaging service

'To celebrate this little milestone, we're organizing a D.C. tweetup next week on Thursday, Dec. 10th, 2009. Come out and hang with us and your fellow D.C. tweeps …'

Washington City Paper 3rd December 2009

Picture a group of complete strangers, meeting in a bar. They're different ages and genders, they're from different backgrounds and professions. Just like the occupants of the number 11 bus, they're a totally random group of people. Except that this group of folk have one small thing in common – they're all regular users of the Twitter messaging service, and they're participating in a tweetup.

a tweetup can be an ad-hoc, face-to-face encounter between two people, but more often describes a wider social gathering, promoted and organized on Twitter itself

Tweetup is the now popularly used term for either an organized or impromptu 'meeting' between people who use Twitter. A tweetup can be an ad-hoc, face-to-face encounter between two people, but more often describes a wider social gathering, promoted and organized on Twitter itself. As well as a chance to satisfy our natural curiosity – e.g. is twitter.com/Isabelk really as tall as she says she is? – a tweetup can also be a useful opportunity to participate in what is now sometimes described as offline networking, a chance to meet people who might be useful contacts for developing your career, business interests, or even favourite hobbies and leisure pursuits.

Among the more interesting examples of tweetups held in recent months are those which have been hosted by NASA (the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Following a highly successful series of Twitter updates in relation to various space missions (Twitter was first used by an astronaut in space in May 2009, during the Hubble space telescope repair mission), NASA organized a series of tweetups, culminating in one held during the shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral in November 2009. 100 members of the general public attended the unprecedented two-day event, which temporarily became one of the hottest 'followed' topics in Twitter history.

Background – tweetup

Tweetup is a blend of noun tweet, in its sense relating to microblogging, (i.e. a tweet is an entry posted on Twitter), and phrasal verb meet up meaning 'come together with someone'. It follows a succession of Twitter-related neologisms born out of the explosion in popularity of this form of online messaging. The natural appeal of the word Twitter (and its association with the cute little bird logo), coupled with its capacity for metaphoric extension, has led to Twitter words anchoring themselves very successfully in the public consciousness. So from a simple trademarked name we get verbs twitter and tweet (and associated activity nouns twittering and tweeting), nouns tweet, tweetup, twitterverse (Twitter + universe – the Twitter service and its community of users) and for the users themselves: tweeters, twitterers, tweeps and tweeple (former the blend of tweet and peeps, a slang term for 'people' and the latter for Twitter + people) and even the twitterati (the twitter 'elite', those people whose ramblings attract large numbers of followers).

On 8th January 2010, the American Dialect Society voted tweet (both in its noun and verb sense, i.e.: a short message sent via Twitter or the act of sending such a message) as its 'Word of the Year' for 2009.

For teachers

Would you like to use this BuzzWord article in class? Visit onestopenglish.com for tips and suggestions on how to do just that! This downloadable pdf contains a student worksheet which includes vocabulary-building exercises and a focus on new words.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 13th January 2010.

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