Just when you thought you had a handle on the English language, more than 1,000 new words get added to the dictionary. This was Merriam-Webster’s announcement yesterday:
Just as the English language constantly grows, so does the dictionary. More than one thousand new words have been added, including terms from recent advances in science, borrowings from foreign languages, and words from tech, medicine, pop culture, sports, and everything in between.
Don’t worry too much, though, because many of the new entries are terms we’ve been using for a long while but that only now are getting the “official” recognition they deserve — terms like net neutrality (lowercase BTW), photobomb, ride shotgun, and urgent care, plus the abbreviations FLOTUS and EVOO.
As you can imagine, many of the new entries come from our need to describe the continuing growth of digital technology, and especially of social media. And so we get botnet, abandonware, ping, and others.
Greater still are the number of new terms that have spread because of social media. You can now turn to Merriam-Webster to find out what it means to geek out after binge-watching the latest mumblecore series, or why your coworkers are face-palming after you clicked that listicle link that was clearly marked NSFW.
But, contrary to what you might have heard, there’s more to life than the internet. Merriam-Webster’s new terms come from all areas of life, including
- Sports: airball as a verb, up-fake, and five-hole
- Medicine: prosopagnosia (more commonly known as face blindness), supercentenarian, and EpiPen
- Psychology: pareidolia and microaggression
- Life sciences: phytoremediation, microbiome, and CRISPR
- Food: arancini, santoku, and macaron
- Fashion: ginger (meaning redhead) and fast fashion
- Art: bokeh and Seussian
- Politics (we can’t escape the politics): truther, SCOTUS, and town hall
Merriam-Webster’s lexicographers do their best to keep up with an always-changing language, so this announcement about new additions isn’t out of the ordinary. Last April saw more than 2,000 updates to the unabridged dictionary, including a passel of words reflecting the growing discussion in mainstream culture of gender identity, words like cisgender and genderqueer, which brought ironic criticism from some.
As M-W editor Emily Brewster noted, “It’s certainly very interesting to see people criticizing us for including the words but then asking what they mean. They end up proving exactly why we needed to add them.”
I look forward to what fresh moral outrage the newest additions will bring.