An Evolving Society Calls for an Evolving Dictionary

Emily Donegan and Julia Grenoble

Trying to stay up to date on the newest slang just became a whole lot trickier now 455 new words were added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Categories such as Online Culture, Coronavirus, Science and Tech, Politics, Food, Medicine, and Pop Culture, are where a majority of the new terms came from.

Different abbreviations such as TBH, (To Be Honest), or FTW (For The Win), have made their appearance in the Dictionary. In an article discussing the expanding word variety, Merriam Webster says, “The quick and informal nature of messaging, texting, and tweeting has contributed to a vocabulary of newly rich inefficient and abbreviated expressions.” 

Living in our world today, Covid-19 has become a term that is now used in daily conversation. As we continue to live through this pandemic, words such as “super-spreader” which means, “an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease” have become more popular. We are familiar with the term, “breakthrough”, but because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, this term is now also used when referring to someone who contracted a disease that they were already vaccinated against. 

Taking you back to your days in elementary school science class, oobleck, a cornstarch and water solution that behaves as both a liquid and a solid, has recently been added to the dictionary. This is no longer a word that people will only see in Dr. Suess books from their childhoods. 

Moving into the category of politics, we see the word, astroturf meaning, falsely made to appear, recognized as a formal word. This term can also be used interchangeably with the phrase’ “fake news”. 

Next up we have our food category. The next time you are craving something sweet make sure to head into your kitchen and make a delicious peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich or “fluffernutter according to Merriam-Webster. 

As we continue to find new discoveries in medicine, we will continue to grow the medical vocab. Most people are all familiar with the three trimesters that a woman goes through in pregnancy, but are they aware that the time period after a baby is already born has a name too? It is referred to as the “fourth trimester” in the Merriam- Webster. 

Last, but certainly not least, society has included the term “dad bod” so much in everyday conversations that Merriam-Webster decided to define it as, “a physique regarded as typical of an average father especially: one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular.” 

We are constantly seeing our society evolve. Merriam-Webster will continue to stay up to date with the newest and most popular terms being used.