Instant Improver

QUIZ: Which Of These ‘Modern’ Words Are Actually Older Than You’d Think?

Twerk - verb; informal. To refer to a twisting or jerking movement or twitch, often in dance: "twerk it girl, work it girl". First used in 1820, spelt 'twirk', before emerging as a verb in 1848 and adjusting to the current spelling in 1901.

We're as surprised as you are. According to a team of researchers led by the Oxford English Dictionary organisation, while the term twerk has risen into modern parlance on the back of Miley Cyrus' famed gyrations, its origins are far older. 

While the modern term might find its roots in early 1990s New Orleans "bounce" music, the term has its roots in the mixing of the words twist or twitch and jerk. Fiona McPherson, senior editor of Oxford English Dictionary, said: "We are confident that it is the same origins as the dance.

"There has been constant use up into the present day to mean that same thing. I think it's quite spectacular, the early origins for it. We were quite surprised."

Inspired by this story of linguistic education, we've compiled a quiz to see just how well you know the history of the English tongue. Here are a set of word pairings - your task is to pick which word is older. Good luck, and be sure to brag about your scores.