Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dictionary Nerd News

Dictionary Nerd News

Word nerds worldwide are either jazzed or all het up due to Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition Collegiate Dictionary. The big news has to do with the 97 new words (I promise, I won’t list them all).

The biggest splash was made by – what a surprise – the most titillating words of the bunch: sexting & f-bomb. I agree that these words are notable, but I find myself most intrigued by comparing the dates the “new” words were first introduced to the language to the years they made it into the dictionary.

The following “new” words were coined from 200-2007:
bucket list
cloud computing

These “new” words hail from the 1990s:
game changer
man cave

It took these words from the ‘70s & ‘80s over thirty years to be acknowledged:
life coach
systemic risk

But take a look at the patience of these mighty words:
1959 – tipping point
1939 – aha moment
1919 – gassed
1904 – energy drink
1859 – mash-up
1802 – earworm (the etymological firestorm going on over this one’s origins will most likely result in a future Wordmonger post)

So, fellow lovers of language, what say you to this big news – the official birth of 97 words & the formidable patience of many of them?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources, The Mercury News, The LA Times & The Washington Post


  1. I was so excited to hear we had all these great "new" words. I had no idea some of them had been around so long! So "earworm" was invented by some guy two centuries ago who had some pesky Hayden concerto running through his brain? I can't wait to read the post!

    1. Anne,
      Isn't it fascinating how long it took some of these words to show up in Merriam Webster? Thanks for popping by.

  2. Thank you. I loved this. I am fascinated by new words and how they make their way into our lives. One of my favorite children's books is Frindle, by Andrew Clements.

  3. I read in an article about the new words that "aha moment" was attributable to Oprah Winfrey. I had no idea she was that old! And one has to wonder what wonder drug could have been in an energy drink in 1904. Cocain perhaps? Good chance.