Merriam-Webster adds 690 new words to dictionary

The English language continues to evolve. Sometimes it may seem faster than we’d want. But Merriam-Webster is tracking all of the changes and has announced that it has added 690 new words to the lexicon.

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Some of the words you may be familiar with:

  • Doggo: Slang for dog.
  • Padawan: “A young person especially when regarded as naïve, inexperienced, etc.”
  • Bingo card: A list of possible scenarios, for example — “Is an alien invasion on your 2023 bingo card?”
  • GOATED: Someone or something considered to be “the greatest of all time.”
  • UAP: Unidentified aerial phenomenon.

Others may not be so familiar such as:

  • Bussin’: Something that is extremely good or delicious.
  • Cromulent: Something acceptable.
  • Nyctinasy: “Plant movement (such as the closing of a flower’s petals or the reorientation of a leaf’s position) that occurs in response to changes in light intensity.”
  • Finsta: A secret account on Instagram.
  • Nurdle: A plastic pellet.

There are also words that are actually abbreviations:

  • NGL: “Not gonna lie.”
  • TFW: “That feeling when.”
  • TTYL: “Talk to you later.”

To see a sample of other words that were added this year, visit Merriam-Webster.

So how does Merriam-Webster decide that a word needs to be added? There’s actually a process.

First, it has to be “used by many people who all agree that it means the same thing.” The editors also read A LOT and are always looking for new words, new definitions or words that had been specialized terms that are being adopted more widely across regions and industries. Each time they find one, they cite it and add it to a searchable database.

They then research how the word is used and how often. If it is frequently seen, then it’s in the database. If not, then it isn’t put in the dictionary. Senior staffers at the dictionary next review the new words. If they have enough supporting evidence to add it to the dictionary, then it is included. If not, the word may go into a pending pile that may be picked up for review the next time around.

There are also words that are already in the dictionary but that get new meanings. Cookie, for example, meant something like a chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin treat that you eat, but at some point the computer tracking definition of cookies was added.

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