Modern language is constantly growing and changing thanks largely in part to the Internet and its ability to give everyone a platform to make their voice heard. It’s no surprise, then, that many of the new words and phrases Merriam-Webster recently added to its dictionary have direct ties to technology and the virtual world.
Merriam-Webster added 370 new words to its dictionary in September including video doorbell, dumbphone (the opposite of a smartphone) and greenwash – to make something appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is. Somehow, supply chain wasn’t already in the dictionary so it was also added.
Metaverse also made the cut, as did yeet – used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm, sponcon – content posted by an influencer on social medial for which the user was paid to talk about, and virtue signaling, defined as the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one’s awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action.
There’s also meatspace, which apparently describes the physical world and environment, especially as contrasted with the virtual world of cyberspace.
Internet slang such as cringe and sus (short for suspect or suspicious) were also added, as were abbreviations for FWIW and ICYMI – for what it’s worth, and in case you missed it, respectively. Words that have been in use for years among Internet users such as pwn and laggy are now finally recognized by Merriam-Webster.
The pandemic no doubt inspired the addition of booster dose, false negative and false positive to the lexicon, and we can thank the evolving financial landscape for additions such as altcoin, side hustle and underbanked – not using or having access to a full range of banking options.
Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large for Merriam-Webster, said some of these words will amuse or inspire while others may provoke debate. Their job is to simply capture the language as it is used.
“Words offer a window into our ever-changing language and culture, and are only added to the dictionary when there is clear and sustained evidence of use.”