'Adorkable' Merriam-Webster 'Levels Up'

Dictionary adds 370 new words, including 'cringe' and 'dumbphone'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2022 10:20 AM CDT
'Adorkable' Merriam-Webster 'Levels Up'
Merriam-Webster.com is displayed on a computer screen on Dec. 6, 2019, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

As you update your vocabulary, so does Merriam-Webster. The dictionary has added 370 new words and terms to its pages, noting that "when many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion." There are several new slang terms, including yeet (used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm; or as a verb, to throw), janky (of very poor quality), sus (short form for suspicious or suspect), adorkable (socially awkward or quirky but endearing), baller (excellent or exciting, while suggestive of a lavish lifestyle), cringe (so embarrassing or awkward as to cause one to cringe), and MacGyver (to make or repair something with what's conveniently on hand), as well as abbreviations FWIW (for what it's worth) and ICYMI (in case you missed it).

Pandemic-related terms include subvariant, booster dose, emergency use authorization, false negative, and false positive. Other additions you likely heard in the last year include supply chain, metaverse, atmospheric river, free dive, space force, side hustle, and shrinkflation. Indeed, Bloomberg notes many of the new words reflect a theme of "economic uncertainty and post-pandemic anxieties." Showing the influence gaming has on our culture, the dictionary also adds level up (to advance or improve in or as if in a game), laggy (having a delayed or slow response, such as with a video game, computer, or internet connection), and LARP (an abbreviation for live-action role-playing).

"Our job is to capture the language as it is used," Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, says in a statement, per NPR. "Some of these words will amuse or inspire, others may provoke debate," but all show "clear and sustained evidence of use." There's also greenwash (to make something appear more to be more environmentally friendly than it is), altcoin (a cryptocurrency seen as an alternative to more established versions), virtue signaling (conspicuously displaying one's awareness of and attentiveness to political issues or social justice matters, often without taking real action), dawn chorus (bird song around sunrise, especially in spring and summer), dumbphone (a phone lacking advanced features, in contrast to smartphone), and pumpkin spice, which should not need defining at this point. (More Merriam-Webster stories.)

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