As Merriam-Webster likes to say, the English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary.
Whether we like it or not – and many do get upset about certain changes – modern dictionaries constantly reflect the state of our word nation. We have no one but ourselves to blame, because dictionaries only add new words when they are already in wide use. These include:
- new meanings for existing words, often thanks to technology;
- new compound words; and
- new words from science, medicine, technology, business and entertainment.
M-W added more than 530 new words in September. Some of my faves (fave itself added earlier this year; I like it because you don’t throw people off by including or excluding the “u” in favourite) include:
- Dad joke: an obvious or punny or corny type of joke told by fathers
- Fatberg: a large mass of fat and solid waste that collects in a sewer system
- Solopreneur: a solo entrepreneur, like me
- They: expanded to include the “singular they,” although I do prefer rewriting to avoid specifying he or she.
In the “get off my lawn” files, I’m not a big fan of a lot of shortened words (I guess no one has time to say more than one syllable?), like these:
- Guac: guacamole
- Inspo: inspiration
- Sesh: session
- Vacay: vacation
(Note that I feel the same way about ads that say “OAC” when it hardly takes much longer to clearly state “On approved credit.”)
I’m sorry to see the official “welcome” to these business buzzwords:
- Pain point: a persistent or recurring problem that annoys customers
- Haircut: a new meaning of “a reduction in the value of an asset.”
How well do we accept new words? The entertaining Word Spy describes it this way:
- Any word that is in the language when you’re born is a natural part of the way the language works.
- Any word or phrase that’s coined between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and you’ll probably use it all your life.
- Any word or phrase coined after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things. (Thus the “get off my lawn” category!)