Think you know what ‘weak sauce’ really means? Check the dictionary.
Do you know what a “conlang” is? What about a “snollygoster”? If you want to be 100% ready for that next game of Words With Friends, you’d better grab a copy of the new Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The dictionary’s editors announced on Feb. 7 that they’ve updated the tome for 2017 by adding more than 1,000 new words. The new crop of terms indicate how English is changing — and how society’s changing with it. (The last time Merriam-Webster’s editors added new words was back in 2014, so this is kind of a big deal!)
The dictionary added a bunch of millennial-friendly words and phrases like “binge-watch,” “throw shade,” “weak sauce” and “listicle.” Others are more appropriate for older generations. A “supercentenarian,” for example, is a person who’s 110 or older. (Fun fact: the number of supercentenarians has “risen rapidly over recent years,” according to the Gerontology Research Group.)
The publisher — which is owned by Encyclopedia Britannica—also added the word “abandonware,” which refers to software that a developer no longer supports, and the phrase “net neutrality,” a term the media has kicked around at least as far back as 2003.
It also immortalized annoying political terms like “truther,” which it defines as “one who believes that the truth about an important subject or event is being concealed from the public by a powerful conspiracy.”
And it brought back a word from the 1800s: “snollygoster,” which it defines as a “shrewd, unprincipled person.” Merriam-Webster dropped it from their Collegiate Dictionary in 2003 because, apparently, nobody was using it. No one, that is, except Bill O’Reilly. When O’Reilly used it, people looked it up, Merriam-Webster says — so now it’s back in.
Some of the words Merriam-Webster just added seem like they should have already been included, like “train wreck,” “geek out” and “ride shotgun.” C’mon, guys, we’ve been calling “shotgun” for decades!
Perhaps the most convoluted new word is “prosopagnosia”— the inability to remember faces.
We’ve all seen our friends humblebrag — when they make a “seemingly modest, self-critical, or casual statement” that’s actually designed to make them look good. For example, the self-help author David Garland tweeted about “that awkward moment when you go to Bodybuilding.com and the graphic on the left side…is you.”
David, help yourself be more modest!
Lastly, the updated dictionary includes the word “conlang,” a constructed language. Think Dothraki or Valyrian (from “Game of Thrones”) or Klingon (from “Star Trek”), which has its its own official dictionary.
Which makes me wonder: Do they add words every few years, too?