New Words From Merriam-Webster

The pandemic created a special update to the dictionary. The new words include COVID-19 and social distancing. They also include these related words and definitions:

  • Self-isolate: to isolate or separate oneself or itself from others.
  • Physical distancing: the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical space between oneself and other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.
  • WFH: abbreviation for “working from home.”
  • PPE: abbreviation for “personal protective equipment.”
  • Intensivist: a physician who specializes in the care and treatment of patients in intensive care.

New technology words include deepfake: an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said.

An informal pronunciation spelling has turned up in the dictionary as “finna” meaning “fixing to” do something.

And my favorite of the short list I saw is truthiness: a seemingly truthful quality not supported by facts or evidence.

It’s always good to look up words you haven’t seen before or aren’t sure of their meaning in a dictionary. Learn every day. It is so easy with the ability to get dictionary definitions from Merriam-Webster, Oxford, and other reputable dictionaries on a cell phone that it doesn’t make any sense not to understand what a word means so you can use it correctly.

2015 Words of the Year

dictionary-1423121-639x424Dictionaries like to name their Word of the Year each year to indicate words that have become more popular in that year. It is definitely an interesting look at the American language each year. In 2015, Oxford and Merriam-Webster both chose a Word of the Year as did the American Dialect Society. With apologies to those who may be sensitive to the words that are not used in common language (at least in groups that you may run with), in the name of keeping it on fleek, I felt it was important to list them all so you would have the information uncensored and not with the intention to offend anyone. Let’s look at their choices.

The Oxford dictionary chose not a word at all, but the “Face With Tears of Joy” emoji. It is the first time that a pictograph was chosen over a word “that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.” Just in case you don’t know what that emoji looks like, it is this one:


The Oxford “short list” included:

  • ad blocker, noun: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.
  • Brexit, noun: A term for the potential or hypothetical departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, from British + exit.
  • Dark Web, noun: The part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.
  • on fleek, adjectival phrase: Extremely good, attractive, or stylish.
  • lumbersexual, noun: A young urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress (typified by a beard and check shirt) suggestive of a rugged outdoor lifestyle.
  • refugee, noun: A person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.
  • sharing economy, noun: An economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.
  • they (singular), pronoun: Used to refer to a person of unspecified sex.

2015 was definitely a year of non-traditional “words” chosen as Word of the Year. for the first time chose the suffix “-ism” as its Word of the Year, which is the word most frequently looked up in their publication, because “a small group of words that share this three-letter ending triggered both high volume and significant year-over-year increase in lookups at Taken together, these seven words represent millions of individual dictionary lookups.” The words with that suffix most frequently searched were socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism, and terrorism.

The American Dialect Society also voted on its Word of the Year. I find all of the choices most interesting, so am including them here. According to the American Dialect Society, “Note that the number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Winners are indicated by an asterisk, and numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off.”


ammosexual: someone who loves firearms in a fetishistic manner. 42
ghost: (verb) abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online. 25
on fleek: put together, impeccable, well-arrayed. 4
thanks, Obama: sarcastic expression in which a person pretends to blame Obama for a problem. 76
* they: gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a nonbinary identifier. 187


mic drop: definitive end to a discussion after making an impressive point. 2
microaggression: subtle form of racism or bias. 62
shade: insult, criticism or disrespect, shown in a subtle or clever manner. 11
* they: gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a nonbinary identifier. 214
zero fucks given, ZFG: indication of supreme indifference. 41


adult: (verb) behave like a grownup 71
* ammosexual: someone who loves firearms in a fetishistic manner. 153
lowkey: (adverb) to a small extent, in a subtle manner; opposite of highkey. 38
squad: one’s posse or close circle of friends. 3
yass, yaass, yaaass, etc.: expression of excitement, approval or strong agreement. 43


dadbod: the flabby physique of a typical dad. 16
* manbun: man’s hairstyle pulled up in a bun. 207
or nah: question tag expressing that something may not occur. 34
trigger warning: alert for potentially distressing material. 10
thanks, Obama: sarcastic expression in which a person pretends to blame Obama for a problem. 34

fish gape
: posed expression with cheeks sucked in and lips slightly apart. 3
* fuckboy, fuckboi: derogatory term for a man who behaves objectionably or promiscuously. 127 / 173
schlong: (verb) defeat soundly. 93 / 148
sharewashing: deceptive marketing by companies treating services as “sharing.” 14
white student union: campus organization organized in response to a black student union. 27

af, asf
: intensifier after an adjective (abbreviation for “as fuck”). 1
lit: amazing, exciting or fun. 2
* Netflix and chill: sexual come-on masked as a suggestion to watch Netflix and relax. 315
swipe right/left: accept or reject (based on gestures used on Tinder dating app). 24


CRISPR: gene-editing technology allowing biologists to alter and control DNA sequences. 51
* ghost: (verb) abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online. 223
mom: admiring term of address for a woman seen as a mother figure. 17
on fleek: put together, impeccable, well-arrayed. 23


Berniementum: momentum behind the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. 59
hoverboard: self-balancing motorized skateboard. 82 / 106
* sitbit: device that rewards sedentary lifestyle (play on Fitbit fitness tracker). 102 / 191
Uber for X: pitch used by startups seeking to emulate Uber in different tech sectors. 33


#JeSuisParis: expression of solidarity after the Paris terror attacks. 6
#LoveWins: celebration of Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. 60
* #SayHerName: call to bring attention to violence against women of color. 178
#StayMadAbby: ridiculing plaintiff in Univ. of Texas affirmative action case. 17
#StayWoke: exhortation to remain vigilant and informed (used by #BlackLivesMatter movement). 59


heart eyes: heart eyes (romantic, passionate). 31

winking face: winking face (humorous, flirtatious). 8

information desk: information desk person (sassy, sarcastic). 31

*eggplant : eggplant (sexual innuendo). 138

100: 100 (“keep it 100,” “keep it real”). 56

Don’t you feel smarter now? I had heard some of these expressions, but didn’t know exactly what they meant. Now I do.




And The Oxford Dictionaries 2014 Word of the Year Is . . .

dictionaryI like to check out the new words added to dictionaries each year. So now (drumroll please) the 2014 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year . . . vape. Vape is an abbreviation of vapour or vaporize and is defined as “to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.” So because it is not “smoking” because it is just vapor, it is “vaping.” Interesting. What were some of the entries on the shortlist you might ask?

  • bae – “used as a term of endearment for one’s romantic partner.” I have to say were it not for Pharrell Williams, I never would have known this word existed or been able to guess at its meaning. Now that it is in the dictionary, that problem is solved.
  • budtender – “a person whose job is to serve customers in a cannabis dispensary or shop.” My how times have changed. Way back when I think they called them a “dealer.” It must be the new legislation that has made it a more noble profession. Another interesting tidbit is that according to the Online Slang Dictionary, in 2012 the term “potrepreneur” was added to mean someone whose business involved marijuana. So I guess the potrepreneur is the person who OWNS the plant and the budtender is the one who SELLS it.
  • contactless – “relating to or involving technologies that allow a smart card, mobile phone, etc. to contact wirelessly to an electronic reader, typically in order to make a payment.” Sounds suspiciously like Apple Pay or the Mobil Speedpass to me. A Google search for the Mobil Speedpass has as the first entry “Speedpass – Contactless Payment at the Gas Pump.” I love it when I’m right.
  • indyref – “an abbreviation of ‘independence referendum’, in reference to the referendum on Scottish independence, held in Scotland on 18 September 2014, in which voters were asked to answer yes or no to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’” By the way, the answer was “no.”
  • normcore – “a trend in which ordinary, unfashionable clothing is worn as a deliberate fashion statement.” I can’t wait for that fashion show.
  • slacktivism – “informal actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g. signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website; a blend of slacker and activism.” I kind of like this one. We could come up with all sorts of combinations with slacker. How about bingeslacking meaning to do absolutely nothing for hours on end when you could be binge-watching or working, slackerselfie meaning pictures you take of yourself in the middle of the day while still in your pajamas, twerkslacker meaning someone who tries to twerk but is just too much of a slacker to make it to the “low, squatting stance.” Thanks to the Oxford Dictionaries 2013 Word of the Year (and the shortlist) for that little grouping.

So there are your new words for 2014. Learn them, use them, and make them yours.

The Word of the Day Is . . .

Every year, Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary adds new words. The addition of words starts with reading by the Merriam-Webster editors, who are looking for words in “their natural habitat for real evidence of the language in use.” The new words are selected based on new meanings and on frequency of use. The 2012 words added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary include (and are quotedwith apologies to those with sensitivities to certain words):

aha moment n (1939) : a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension [Oprah Winfrey’s signature phrase]

brain cramp n (1982) : an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

bucket list n (2006) : a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying [popularized by the movie title]

cloud computing n (2006) : the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet [technology]

copernicium n (2009) : a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons

craft beer n (1986) : a specialty beer produced in limited quantities : microbrew

earworm n (1802) 1 : corn earworm 2 : a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind [“this summer’s example being the inescapable Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.”]

energy drink n (1904) : a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy

e-reader n (1999) : a handheld electronic device designed to be used for reading e-books and similar material

f-bomb n (1988) : the word fuck — used metaphorically as a euphemism

flexitarian n (1998) : one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish

game changer n (1993) : a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

gassed adj (1919) … 2 slang : drained of energy : spent, exhausted

gastropub n (1996) : a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality

geocaching n (2000) : a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device

life coach n (1986) :  an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems

man cave n (1992) : a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

mash-up n (1859) : something created by combining elements from two or more sources: as a : a piece of music created by digitally overlaying an instrumental track with a vocal track from a different recording  b : a movie or video having characters or situations from other sources  c : a Web service or application that integrates data and functionalities from various online sources [“Whether it’s a politician contradicting him or herself with excerpts from different speeches shown in quick succession or Danger Mouse’s Grey Album, mixing Jay-Z with the Beatles, we’ve come to expect combined and rearranged elements that bring new perspectives and new creativity to our culture with mash-ups,” says editor Sokolowski. “It’s a recent phenomenon, made possible with digital editing, and it has a fun and descriptive name.”]

obesogenic adj (1986) :  promoting excessive weight gain :  producing obesity

sexting n (2007) : the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

shovel-ready adj (1998) of a construction project or site : ready for the start of work 

systemic risk n (1982) : the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole [the global financial crisis]

tipping point n (1959) : the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place

toxic adj  (1664) … 4 : relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

underwater adj (1672) … 3 : having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth

You will note that many of these are just additional definitions for words that have been used for years (and sometimes centuries). It is comforting to me to know that while our language is constantly changing, Merriam-Webster is making an effort to keep up. Learn them, use them correctly, and prove to everyone just how “current” your language is!