100 new terms make the cut for Merriam-Webster dictionary
Puzzled about whether to serve edamame to a pescatarian? Not sure how to spot the fanboy by the infinity pool?
Fear not, because you can now look up the meanings of those terms and about 100 other new words and phrases in the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
The wordsmiths at the Springfield, Mass.-based publishing house say they picked the new entries after monitoring their use over years in publications ranging from newspapers to technical manuals.
"As soon as we see the word used without explanation or translation or gloss, we consider it a naturalized citizen of the English language," said Peter Sokolowski, an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster.
"If somebody is using it to convey a specific idea and that idea is successfully conveyed in that word, it's ready to go in the dictionary."
A number of entries are a sign of a growing interest in culinary arts, including the popular Japanese word "edamame," which refers to immature green soybeans usually still in the pod, and "soju," a Korean vodka distilled from rice.
"Pescatarian," first spotted in print in 1993, refers to a vegetarian who eats fish while the term "fanboy" dates back to 1919 and describes a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee of such things as comics or movies.
The name of the popular poker game Texas hold 'em also won a spot in the American dictionary, as did "infinity pool," an outdoor pool with one lower edge that allows water to gush over making it look like it flows into the horizon.
"Mondegreen" also made it in. The term refers to misunderstood phrases or lyrics, such as "Scuse me, while I kiss this guy" in place of "kiss the sky" from the classic 1967 Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze.
The word, first spotted in print in 1954, originated from the mishearing of the Scottish ballad lyric "laid him on the green" as "Lady Mondegreen."
"Mondegreen" was among tens of thousands of words whose use the dictionary editors monitored for decades.
"They can float for decades. What that means, for the most part, is that they've been used in more spoken forms than … written until recently," Sokolowski said.
The following are some other words or expressions that were included, along with the year Merriam-Webster first found them in print:
- Air quotes (1989): gesture made by raising and flexing the index and middle fingers of both hands, used to call attention to a spoken word or expression.
- Dirty bomb (1956): bomb designed to release radioactive material.
- Kiteboarding (1996): the sport of riding on a small surfboard propelled across water by a large kite, to which the rider is harnessed.
- Mental health day (1971): day that an employee takes off from work to relieve stress or renew vitality.
- Subprime (1995): 1. having or being an interest rate that is higher than a prime rate and is extended especially to low-income borrowers; 2. extending or obtaining a subprime loan.
- Wing nut (circa 1900): (slang) one who advocates extreme measures or changes; radical.
With files from the Associated Press