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

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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)."

The Ohio State University Is Trying to Trademark the ‘The’ in Its Name

As any good Ohioan knows, there’s a big difference between an Ohio state university and The Ohio State University. But with countless other public colleges across the state, including the similarly named Ohio University, it’s not hard for out-of-towners or prospective students to get confused. To further distinguish themselves from other institutions (and to capitalize on merchandise opportunities, no doubt), The Ohio State University is pursuing a trademark for the The in its name.

According to Smithsonian.com, trademark lawyer Josh Gerben first broke the news on Twitter, where he shared a short video that included the trademark application itself, as well as examples of how the university plans to use the word on apparel. One is a white hat emblazoned with a red THE, and the other is a red scoop-necked T-shirt with a white THE and the Ohio State logo beneath it. Gerben predicts that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will initially deny the trademark request on the basis that those examples aren’t sufficient trademark use, but the university would have an opportunity to try again.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that university spokesperson Chris Davey confirmed the trademark application, saying that “Ohio State works to vigorously protect the university’s brand and trademarks.” He’s not exaggerating; the university has secured trademarks for legendary coaches Urban Meyer and Woody Hayes, plus more than 150 trademarks and pending applications across an impressive 17 countries.

The school's 2017 request to trademark the initials "OSU" provoked an objection from Oklahoma State University, which is also known as OSU, but the two schools eventually decided that they could both use it, as long as each refrained from producing clothing or content that could cause confusion about which school was being referenced.

The Ohio State University, perhaps most famous for its marching band, public research endeavors, and legendary athletic teams, is not impervious to social media mockery, however.

Ohio University responded with this:

And the University of Michigan, OSU’s longtime sports rival, suggested that it should trademark of:

However bizarre this trademark may seem, it's far from the weirdest request th Patent and Trademark Office has ever received. Check out these colors and scents that are also trademarked.

[h/t Smithsonian.com]

Where Did the Term Brownie Points Come From?

bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images
bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

In a Los Angeles Times column published on March 15, 1951, writer Marvin Miles observed a peculiar phrase spreading throughout his circle of friends and the social scene at large. While standing in an elevator, he overheard the man next to him lamenting “lost brownie points.” Later, in a bar, a friend of Miles's who had stayed out too late said he would never “catch up” on his brownie points.

Miles was perplexed. “What esoteric cult was this that immersed men in pixie mathematics?” he wrote. It was, his colleagues explained, a way of keeping “score” with their spouses, of tallying the goodwill they had accrued with the “little woman.”

Over the decades, the phrase brownie points has become synonymous with currying favor, often with authority figures such as teachers or employers. So where exactly did the term come from, and what happens when you “earn” them?

The most pervasive explanation is that the phrase originated with the Brownies, a subsect of the Girl Scouts who were encouraged to perform good deeds in their communities. The Brownies were often too young to be official Girl Scouts and were sometimes the siblings of older members. Originally called Rosebuds in the UK, they were renamed Brownies when the first troops were being organized in 1916. Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who had formed the Boy Scouts and was asked to name this new Girl Scout division, dubbed them Brownies after the magical creatures of Scottish folklore that materialized to selflessly help with household chores.

But the Brownies are not the only potential source. In the 1930s, kids who signed up to deliver magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and Ladies' Home Journal from Curtis Publishing were eligible for vouchers labeled greenies and brownies that they could redeem for merchandise. They were not explicitly dubbed brownie points, but it’s not hard to imagine kids applying a points system to the brownies they earned.

The term could also have been the result of wartime rationing in the 1940s, where red and brown ration points could be redeemed for meats.

The phrase didn’t really seem to pick up steam until Miles's column was published. In this context, the married men speaking to Miles believed brownie points could be collected by husbands who remembered birthdays and anniversaries, stopped to pick up the dry cleaning, mailed letters, and didn’t spend long nights in pubs speaking to newspaper columnists. The goal, these husbands explained, was never to get ahead; they merely wanted to be considered somewhat respectable in the eyes of their wives.

Later, possibly as a result of its usage in print, grade school students took the phrase to mean an unnecessary devotion to teachers in order to win them over. At a family and faculty meeting at Leon High in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1956, earning brownie points was said to be a serious problem. Also called apple polishing, it prompted other students in class to shame their peers for being friendly to teachers. As a result, some were “reluctant to be civil” for fear they would be harassed for sucking up.

In the decades since that time, the idiom has become attached to any act where goodwill can be expected in return, particularly if it’s from someone in a position to reward the act with good grades or a promotion. As for Miles: the columnist declared his understanding of brownie points came only after a long night of investigation. Arriving home late, he said, rendered him “pointless.”

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