Collegiate Lexicon Adds ‘Sexting,’ ‘F-Bomb,’ ‘Man Cave,’ ‘Mash-Up,’ to the Dictionary

Every year the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is updated to include new words that have proved their importance and merit through use in common language. The dictionary, a categorically Descriptivist one, finds that it is their responsibility to observe how language is evolving and let their book act as a reflection of the times. With the most recent update, words such as flexitarian, e-reader, f-bomb, life coach, sexting, shovel ready, and gastropub now sit alongside the annals of lexiconic history.

Because Merriam-Webster is so agressive about adding words over their trendiness, they often get things wrong and also have to remove words from the book. 1 To be removed, a word is seen as no longer used, or so rooted in a specific era of usage it’s archaic now. Compound word pairs like bucket list, craft beer, and life coach, are most susceptible to removal because their usage and weight is determined by the relationship between two existing words and therefore not founded in the formation of a unique piece of vocabulary.

1 Sexting as a word might become passé if we are all, say, sentient robots in 400 years. Though one has it on good authority other problems for humanity will present themselves in an android-centric world.

The full list additions to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

aha moment, n. (1939)
A moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

brain cramp, n. (1982)
An instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment.

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.

craft beer, n. (1986)
A specialty beer produced in limited quantities: microbrew.

earworm, n. (1802)
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.

e-reader, n. (1999)
A handheld electronic device designed to be used for reading e-books and similar material.

f-bomb n. (1988)
The word fuck — used metaphorically as a euphemism.

flexitarian, n. (1998)
One whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish.

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

gassed, adj. (1919)
Slang: drained of energy; spent, exhausted.

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

geocaching, n. (2000)
A game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device.

life coach, n. (1986)
An advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems.

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.

obesogenic, adj. (1986)
Promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity.

sexting, n. (2007)
The sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone.

shovel-ready, adj. (1998)
Of a construction project or site: ready for the start of work.

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.

tipping point, n. (1959)
The critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place.

toxic, adj. (1664)
Relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market.

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


“A Sample of New Dictionary Words for 2012,” Merriam-Webster

Image via Cleveland

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