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New Year, New Dictionary

By James Grossman

   For the month of October, 455 new words and definitions have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary that relate to a variety of topics. Among the new words are abbreviations, COVID-19 related phrases, new political terms, and other miscellaneous words.

   Some new terms include “TBH” and “FTW”, which stand for “to be honest” and “for the win” respectively. According to the Merriam-Webster website, these terms ease regular communication online. “We’ve been communicating online for decades now…The quick and informal nature of messaging, texting, and tweeting has contributed to a vocabulary newly rich in efficient and abbreviated expression.”

   COVID-19 terms include “vaccine passport,” which is a “physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination against one or more infectious diseases (such as COVID-19).” Another term includes “super-spreader,” which is “an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease.” Merriam-Webster believes that “the pandemic story isn’t over, and neither is the need for more vocabulary to describe the policy and research developments connected to COVID-19.”

   New words in politics include “whataboutism,” which is “the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse.” “Vote-a-rama,” which is an unusually large number of debating and votes in one day due to a particular legislature, is also included. The word “because” has also received a new definition, and can now be defined as “…it can be used, for example, to avoid delving into the overly technical (‘the process works because science’) or to dismiss explanation altogether (‘they left because reasons’).”

   However, there are several words that may come as a surprise to several people. “Fluffernutter” is included in the new words, and it is defined as a sandwich with both peanut butter and marshmallow ingredients. Another one is “faux-hawk,” a hairstyle resembling a mohawk. One new word that may seem interesting to some is “dad bod,” which the dictionary defines as “a physique regarded as typical of an average father…one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular.”

   With the several new words added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it’s evident that language never stops growing. As stated on the Merriam-Webster website, “Just as the language never stops evolving, the dictionary never stops expanding. New terms and new uses for existing terms are the constant in a living language, and our latest list brings together both new and likely familiar words that have shown extensive and established use.”

   In Oct., 2021 several new words relating to various topics have been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. These new terms show that language and communication never stop evolving.

  • “TBH” and “FTW” are new terms and are abbreviations for “to be honest” and “for the win” respectively.
  • COVID-19 terms include “vaccine passport,” a physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination against one or more infectious diseases.
  • Another COVID-19 term is “super-spreader,” an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease.
  • A new term in political words is “whataboutism,” the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse.
  • New food terms include “fluffernutter,” a sandwich covered in both peanut butter and marshmallows.
  • One miscellaneous term is “dad bod,” which is “a physique regarded as typical of an average father…one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular.”

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