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Sexting in the Man Cave: Merriam-Webster Adds New Words to Dictionary

Posted on the 15 August 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
man cave Man cave – one of the new phrases in the dictionary

The background

American collegiate dictionary Merriam-Webster’s new edition will contain a hundred new words and phrases: F-bomb, man cave, aha moment, sexting, and gastropub being a few. You’ll also find bucket list (popularised by the film of the same name), gassed, and underwater – when used to described mortages. A list of the some of the words is below.

Some new words reflect our times

The global financial crisis is reflected, said CNN, as phrases like “systemic risk” – in which one financial institution causes others to fail, and “underwater” – which means a mortgage loan that costs more than the property. Technology, too, pokes its head out of the waters: “cloud computing” – storing data on multiple servers; and “sexting” – sending explicit images on your mobile phone.

Colourful images

The dictionary’s editor-at-large, Peter Sokolwski, said that the new words provided colourful images, and showed “that English-speakers can be very creative as they describe the world around them,” quoted on Gawker. Its associate editor, Kory Stamper, said that “F-bomb” in particular was “very visually evocative.” In case you didn’t know, it’s a euphemism. For f*ck.

How new words get in – and out

Jen Doll on The Atlantic Wire wanted to know how words got into the dictionary, and if they got cut (they do.) Words get removed when they’re no longer used – eg “hodad”, which used to mean a non-surfer pretending to be a surger. Editors choose new words on the basis of frequency; many will be simply permutations of an earlier word (as in “underwater.”) The site quoted Sokolowksi, sugesting that words are changeable: “That’s actuallyt he whole story, told over and over and over again. Only dead languages are static.”

The old words shiver in their shoes

Alexandra Petri on The Washington Post said she personally didn’t have a propblem with “F-bomb”, but that when “new words” came into the dcionary, “it’s like a gated community watching the New Family move in. ‘Oh no,’ Diatribe mutters to Glut. ‘Look at them, dear,’” as F-bomb and Life Coach blast “loud neologism-rich music” from their car. “Diatribe adjusts the collar of his polo. ‘What do you want me to do, honey? Look, Frenemy and Shawarma have only been here since 2009, and see how well they’ve settled in!’” Alarm bells ring; the old words “cluster in fear behind their screen doors.”

 Some of the new words 

aha moment n (1939) : a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

bucket list n (2006) : a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

cloud computing n (2006) : the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet

copernicium n (2009) : a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons

earworm n (1802) 1 : CORN EARWORM 2 : a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind

energy drink n (1904) : a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy

f-bomb n (1988) : the word fuck — used metaphorically as a euphemism

game changer n (1993) : a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

gassed adj (1919) … 2 slang : drained of energy : SPENT, EXHAUSTED

gastropub n (1996) : a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality

man cave n (1992) : a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

mash-up n (1859) : something created by combining elements from two or more sources: as a : a piece of music created by digitally overlaying an instrumental track with a vocal track from a different recording b : a movie or video having characters or situations from other sources c : a Web service or application that integrates data and functionalities from various online sources

sexting n (2007) : the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

systemic risk n (1982) : the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole

underwater adj (1672) … 3 : having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth.

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