New words come in many forms. They are created to identify new technology, they are slang used by teens, or they come from trends, pop culture and very often science-fiction. Merriam-Webster Dictionary is charged with incorporating all those new words that humanity invents. It is a more intense process than many realize. While some of these new words will become part of the language, others are just a fad rarely to be heard of again. New words are vetted and only incorporated in a new dictionary when they could, “be used in a substantial number of citations that come from a wide range of publications over a considerable period of time.”
Newly added words for 2016:
- Bitcoin, the digital currency. The first known use of bitcoin was in 2008.
- Urban fantasy, which is a type of fiction that sets fantasy elements such as elves and fairies in urban settings. Urban fantasy is older than bitcoin, with the first known use in 1978.
- TMI, which is an abbreviation for too much information. I use that with my dad because he has a tendency to over share.
- Hella, which you’ve almost certainly heard if you’ve lived on the West Coast since the early ’90s.’ It’s slang used to mean “very” or “a lot of” as in I get hella excited with they add new words, and They added hella words to the dictionary.
cold one (to mean “a cold beer”), coconutty (to describe something that tastes of coconut),
cold case (to describe an unsolved criminal investigation)
toon (as an abbreviation for cartoon)
life hack (which is two words and usually refers to a simple and clever tip or technique for accomplishing some familiar task more easily and efficiently).
And they added a few not so popular words:
- Fit-and-flare, which is an adjective that describes something that is “fitted through the waist and flaring out at or below the hips,” as in The new clothing line includes several fit-and-flare dresses and coats.
- Nomophobia, which describes the fear of being without access to a working cell phone.” It comes from the concept of no mobile, as in no cell phone, plus phobia. You’d use it like this: 66% of people suffer from nomophobia. and
- Dipsogenic, which is an adjective you use to describe something that produces thirst. It comes form the Greek word dipsa for “thirst” plus the –genic suffix. For example, scientists might talk about a dipsogenic drive or a dipsogenic response. and
- Mx., which is a gender-neutral courtesy title like Mr., Mrs., and Ms., and is labeled for now as “chiefly British” because it’s used more often in Britain than in the US.
The 2016 edition of the dictionary has added 1,400 new terms and phrases, and 700 new senses of existing terms.
Merriam-Webster even has a blog where you can go to see the words they are considering. Words We Are Watching, offers a unique insight into what just might be in your dictionary next year.