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)."

12 Animals Named After the Noises They Make

A bobolink, said to have been named for the call it makes
A bobolink, said to have been named for the call it makes
iStock.com/PaulReevesPhotography

If you were asked to name an onomatopoeic word, then you’d probably come up with something like boom, boing, whizz, smash, or tick-tock. They’re all perfectly good examples, of course, but onomatopoeia is actually responsible for a lot more words than you might think. For instance, etymologists believe that pebble might have been coined to imitate the sound of flowing water. Laugh might have been invented to sound like, well, a laugh. Owl, crow, and raven are all descended from Old English words (ule, crawe, hræfn) that were meant to imitate the owl’s hoot and the crow’s and raven’s squawks. And the 12 names listed here are all meant to represent the bizarre whoops, chips, peeps and wows made by the animals they describe.

1. AI

An ai in Venezuela
Fernando Flores, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

As well as being a contender for the world’s shortest animal name, ai (which should be pronounced “ah-ee") is another name for a three-toed sloth, especially the pale-throated sloth, found in the far northeast corner of South America. Although sloths are generally fairly docile, the name ai is apparently meant to resemble the high-pitched cry they can make when they’re agitated or alarmed.

2. BOBOLINK

Bobolinks can produce very long and surprisingly complex songs, but their usual go-to noise is a brief four-note call that’s commonly said to sound like someone saying “Bob-o-Lincoln.” The name Bob-o-Lincoln eventually was shortened to bobolink in the 1800s.

3. CHIPMUNK

One theory claims that the name chipmunk is an English interpretation of a native Ojibwe word, ajidamoo, meaning something like “red squirrel.” But because chipmunks were originally known as “chipping squirrels” in English, it seems more likely that the name is actually an English invention, in which case it’s probably meant to describe their short “chipping” call.

4. CHOWCHILLA

A chowchilla
Seabamirum, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The chowchilla is type of logrunner, a small thrush-like bird, that’s native to Queensland, Australia. For a bird not much larger than a robin, the chowchilla has a particularly noisy call that to early European colonists and explorers apparently sounded like “chow-chilla-chow-chow.” The chowchilla was also once known as the “auctioneer bird,” apparently because (with a bit of imagination) its song sounds like an auctioneer's incessant chattering.

5. CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW

A cousin of the better-known whippoorwill, the chuck-will’s-widow is another species of nightjar (a family of nocturnal birds related to swifts and martins) native to the southern United States and much of Central America. Dozens of different species of nightjar are found all over the world, and they all share incredible camouflaged plumage and strange whooping calls—so if the “whippoorwill” makes a noise that sounds like poor Will is about to be whipped, then the “chuck-will’s-widow” makes a sound like poor Will’s widow is about to be chucked.

6. GANG-GANG

A gang-gang cockatoo
iStock.com/JohnCarnemolla

The peculiar croaking noise made by the gang-gang cockatoo of southeast Australia has been likened to everything from a creaking wooden door to a cork being pulled from a wine bottle. However you might want to describe it, the onomatopoeic name gang-gang was adopted into English from a Wiradhuri name that was supposed to imitate it.

7. HOOPOE

Hoopoe bird on a branch
iStock.com/shurub

The hoopoe is a striking-looking songbird whose name is meant to imitate its strange whooping call. Their bizarre appearance has also helped make them the frequent subject of myths and folktales over time: the Ancient Egyptians worshipped them and drew pictures of them inside the pyramids; the Romans believed that they were filthy creatures because they fed on dung and frequently nested in graveyards; and at least one old European legend claims that the younger birds look after the older ones in their old age, restoring their youth by plucking out dying feathers and licking blindness from their eyes.

8. KATYDID

A katydid on a purple flower
iStock.com/blindsquirrelphoto

Katydids make their loud and often three-syllable “ka-ty-did” call by rubbing their forewings together. They hear each other, incidentally, with ears located on their front legs. There are more than 6000 species in the katydid family, found on every continent except Antarctica.

9. MACAQUE

The name macaque was borrowed into English via French in the late 17th century, but it’s thought to originally derive from an old Bantu name, kaku, for any of the numerous monkey species found in West Africa. The name kaku is in turn supposed to be imitative of a monkey call, and it’s from the plural form of kaku—namely makaku in Bantu—that the word macaque eventually evolved.

10. PEEWIT

A type of plover with characteristic green plumage and a long curled crest, the northern lapwing has a number of nicknames in English—including the peewit, the swipe, the peepsweep, the teewhit, and the teeack—every one of which is supposed to emulate its noisy alarm call. The common name lapwing, incidentally, refers to the bird’s tactic of feigning a broken wing in order to distract predators from their nest when they feel threatened.

11. PIET-MY-VROU

Piet-my-vrou is another name for the red-chested cuckoo, a species of cuckoo found across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Cuckoos are well known for their instantly recognizable call, and it’s the loud three-note descending call of the piet-my-vrou (which literally means “Pete my wife” in Afrikaans) that gives it its name.

12. WOW-WOW

A wow-wow, or agile gibbon

Gibbons are famous for their lengthy and surprisingly complex songs, and the whooping or “wowing” call of the wow-wow or wawa—a local Indonesian name for either the agile gibbon or the silvery gibbon—is no exception. Sadly both species are now listed as endangered, due to their localized distribution and on-going habitat destruction.

This story first ran in 2014.

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