The English language certainly never stands still, and dictionaries like Merriam-Webster do their best to keep up. Thus they officially admit new (or newish) words or new definitions to their ranks as people use them over time.
As M-W says, “Signs of a healthy language include words being created, words being borrowed from other languages, and new meanings being given to existing words.”
I thought last September was busy, with 370 words added. Last month, M-W added 690. Here are some that particularly struck me:
In the digital world (a suddenly hot category)
- Hallucination: A plausible but false or misleading response generated by artificial intelligence.
- Smishing: Sending text (SMS) messages to someone to trick the person into revealing personal or confidential information, to be used for criminal purposes. The word combines SMS with “phishing,” used for the same tricks done by email.
In the slang files
- Bingo card: A a list of possible, expected or likely scenarios. During the pandemic, I remember someone commenting, “I didn’t have murder hornets on my bingo card.”
- Doggo: Fond way of saying dog.
- GOAT, GOATED: Considered to be the Greatest Of All Time.
- ngl: Not gonna lie.
- TFW: That feeling when. (Although why is this upper case when ‘ngl’ is lower case?) “Used especially on social media or in text messages to introduce a relatable scenario or an image that evokes a specific feeling.”
In the annoying files (yeah, get off my lawn)
- Cromulent: Acceptable, satisfactory. (Ugh.)
- Girlboss: An ambitious and successful woman. She’s a boss, OK?
- Jorts: Shorts made of jeans (denim). I guess “jean shorts” just takes too long to say?
- UAP: Unidentified aerial phenomenon. A mysterious flying object in the sky sometimes assumed to be a spaceship from another planet, or what everyone will still refer to as UFO, unidentified flying object.
- Zhuzh: A small improvement or adjustment that completes the overall look, taste, etc. of something. Often used with “up.”
In the charming files
- Crate-dig: To shop for rare, vintage or obscure recordings by searching through crates of secondhand merchandise.
- Rewild: To reintroduce plant or animal species to the wild, or return an area to a more natural or wild state.
- Tiny house: A small house or mobile home, typically less than 500 square feet, designed for ergonomics and efficient use of space.
Now looking forward to the hotly contested “words of the year” for 2023!