25 of the New Words Merriam-Webster Is Adding to the Dictionary in 2018

iStock
iStock

If you don't spend most of your time on the internet, it can be hard to keep up with the evolving lingo of the digital age. Luckily, the editors at Merriam-Webster have done the hard work of keeping track of the most important new terms to know: The American institution has added over 840 new words to its dictionary, many of which didn't exist a couple of decades ago.

Readers fluent in internet-speak will be familiar with many of the entries on the list, and there are also plenty of new words that are specific to the tech world. Not every word that's new to the dictionary is necessarily new to language; Merriam-Webster now includes some culinary terms that have been around for a while, and the new list also features abbreviations of common words. Check out a sample of the new entries below.

1. BOUGIE (ADJ.)

Short for bourgeois, this term means "Marked by a concern for wealth, possessions, and respectability."

2. TL;DR (ABBREV.)

"Too long; didn't read—used to say that something would require too much time to read."

3. BINGEABLE (ADJ.)

"Having multiple episodes or parts that can be watched in rapid succession."

4. PREDICTIVE (ADJ.)

As in predictive text: "Of, relating to, or usable or valuable for prediction."

5. HAPTICS (N.)

"The use of electronically or mechanically generated movement that a user experiences through the sense of touch as part of an interface (such as on a gaming console or smartphone)."

6. FORCE QUIT (V.)

"To force (an unresponsive computer program) to shut down (as by using a series of preset keystrokes)."

7. AIRPLANE MODE (N.)

"An operating mode for an electronic device (such as a mobile phone) in which the device does not connect to wireless networks and cannot send or receive communications (such as calls or text messages) or access the Internet but remains usable for other functions."

8. INSTAGRAM (V.)

"To post (a picture) to the Instagram photo-sharing service."

9. BIOHACKING (N.)

"Biological experimentation (as by gene editing or the use of drugs or implants) done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms especially by individuals and groups outside of a traditional medical or scientific research environment."

10. FINTECH (N.)

"Products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries."

11. MARG (N.)

A margarita. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known usage occurred in 1990.

12. FAVE (N.)

Favorite. This word is older than it looks: It dates back to 1938. ("Lester Harding, heavy fave here, clicks with pop songs," was the first usage, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

13. ADORBS (ADJ.)

"Extremely charming or appealing : adorable."

14. RANDO (N.)

According to Merriam-Webster, this "often disparaging" slang means "A random person: a person who is not known or recognizable or whose appearance (as in a conversation or narrative) seems unprompted or unwelcome."

15. GUAC (N.)

Guacamole.

16. IFTAR (N.)

"A meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break the daily fast during Ramadan."

17. GOCHUJANG (N.)

A spicy paste used in Korean cuisine that is made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, and fermented soybeans.

18. MISE EN PLACE (N.)

"A culinary process in which ingredients are prepared and organized (as in a restaurant kitchen) before cooking."

19. HOPHEAD (N.)

Originally a slang word for a drug addict dating back to 1883, this word these days means "A beer enthusiast."

20. ZOODLE (N.)

"A long, thin strip of zucchini that resembles a string or narrow ribbon of pasta."

21. HANGRY (ADJ.)

"Irritable or angry because of hunger." People have been hangry (or at least using the word) since 1956.

22. MOCKTAIL (N.)

"A usually iced drink made with any of various ingredients (such as juice, herbs, and soda water) but without alcohol: a nonalcoholic cocktail."

23. LATINX (ADJ.)

"Of, relating to, or marked by Latin American heritage—used as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina."

24. GENERATION Z (N.)

The generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

25. TENT CITY (N.)

"A collection of many tents set up in an area to provide usually temporary shelter (as for displaced or homeless people)."

Presidents Day vs. President's Day vs. Presidents' Day: Which One Is It?

iStock
iStock

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" implies that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

11 Words You Might Not Realize Come From “Love”

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

1. BELIEVE

In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.

2. FURLOUGH

We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning "allowance" or "permission" (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.

3. FRIDAY

Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.

4. VENOM

Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with the love goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.

5. AMATEUR

The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.

6. CHARITY

The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.

7. PHILOSOPHY

Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.

8. PHILANTHROPY

This one means love of anthropos, humanity.

9. PHILADELPHIA

You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.

10. PHILIP

The name Philip comes from the compound phil- + hippos, love of horses.

11. ACIDOPHILUS

Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.

This list originally ran in 2015.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER