Take a Look at These New Words
Last month, Merriam-Webster added a slew of new words to the dictionary.
If you were to guess as to the degree to which our language is expanding, in round figures, what number would you put forward?
Perhaps a few dozen? Maybe four score?
Reader, it’s a much larger number.
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Three hundred seventy new words were added to the dictionary in September 2022.
The dictionary seems like a relic — a stone tablet held up against the ever-changing, ever-moving world of streaming, dreaming, and meming.
A stereoscopic daguerreotype captured in amber while the brightly burning, all-colorful, incessant TikToks keep us attuned to the latest distractions.
While the dictionary may seem like a snapshot, it’s really more of a chronicle of our time — a living, breathing document that is constantly expanding. Of course, it shrinks as well, as there are words we no longer use.
What are some of the words that officially joined us in September? Let’s take a look.
Commerce and Employment
Herbert Hoover once said, “The business of America is business.” And so vocabulary expands to match business.
gift economy : a system in which goods and services are given freely between people rather than sold or bartered
shrinkflation : the practice of reducing a product's amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price
altcoin : any of various cryptocurrencies that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin
Since everything seems to be related to the pandemic, it should be no surprise that these make an appearance (even though they were first used in the 1910s)
false negative : a person or test result that is incorrectly classified as negative (as for the presence of a health condition) because of imperfect testing methods or procedures
false positive : a person or test result that is incorrectly classified as positive (as for the presence of a health condition) because of imperfect testing methods or procedures
As much as the natural world is constant, our descriptions of it are always changing.
dawn chorus : the singing of wild birds that closely precedes and follows sunrise especially in spring and summer
surface wave : an earthquake vibration propagated near the surface of the earth
free dive : to swim beneath the surface of water especially at considerable depth without a portable breathing device and typically with a face mask and one or two flippers : to engage in free diving
mud season : a time of year (such as early spring) that is characterized by excessively muddy ground
This is my favorite section, since it helps me decode what my teenagers are saying to me.
yeet interjection, slang — used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm yeet verb : to throw especially with force and without regard for the thing being thrown
cringe slang : so embarrassing, awkward, etc. as to cause one to cringe : CRINGEWORTHY
janky informal : of very poor quality : JUNKY; also : not functioning properly or adequately : FAULTY
sus slang : SUSPICIOUS, SUSPECT
FWIW abbreviation for what it’s worth
ICYMI abbreviation in case you missed it
And of course since its October, we have to honor the universal flavoring of autumn:
pumpkin spice : a mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie
If you’d like to see Merriam-Webster’s list of new words, we’ve got you covered.
Heres hoping your day is filled with words, old and new.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.
Oh, and if you’re at all interested in the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, have I got a story for you: