Our favorite dictionary-turned-Twitter-wise-guy is back with fresh insights into our crazy, crazy times.
Merriam-Webster is expanding its vocabulary list with over 250 new words and definitions. While some of them reflect outstanding technological and societal changes, others seem to hint at how messed up our post-Trump era has become.
Two of the new words included in the dictionary’s recent additions are “alt-right” and “troll,” which complete each other and are a sad commentary on once-fringe movements going mainstream.
“Alt-right” is defined as “a right-wing, primarily online political movement or grouping based in the U.S. whose members reject mainstream conservative politics and espouse extremist beliefs and policies typically centered on ideas of white nationalism.”
In this light, “troll” gets a new meaning: “to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content” and “to harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts.”
We also have “dog whistle” of canine origin, which, in a political context, gets the additional meaning: “an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people.”
Moving on to technology, Merriam-Webster finally takes on board two terms that have dominated headlines in the past few years.
First, the “Internet of Things” or “IoT”, defined as “the networking capability that allows information to be sent to and received from objects and devices (such as fixtures and kitchen appliances) using the Internet.”
Then, the dictionary offers a definition of “ransomware” as “malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted file.”
There are also new business and sport terms that have been in use for a while, such as “onboarding” and “bunny.” Now “Hive Mind,” which started as a biological term to describe colonies of bees and ants, has evolved to define “the collective thoughts, ideas, and opinions of a group of people (such as Internet users) regarded as functioning together as a single mind.”
Let’s get to a spicy conclusion with “sriracha,” which is defined as “a pungent sauce that is made from hot peppers pureed with usually garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar and that is typically used as a condiment.”
“Our job as lexicographers is to follow the development of language, defining the words people are likely to encounter,” says Emily Brewster, associate editor at Merriam-Webster. “These new words have been added to the dictionary because they have established themselves in the English language, and are part of the current, active vocabulary of America.”