29 May 2014

New Words in English

Words are always being added to languages and English is more dynamic than many languages. Words come and often go after a short time. Fads, slang and pop cultural references sometimes have a short shelf life.

Dictionary makers had always held a kind of dominion over what words were accepted or not. That is true to a lesser degree today, but we still pay attention to their pronouncements.

Merriam-Webster has announced new entries for their 2014 collegiate dictionary. There are 150 new words with a good number coming from pop culture and technology.

One day in the future, perhaps someone will be reading this blog or some article about these words and they will wonder about the etymology of these words the way I currently look at the origin of words from the past on this blog.

Big Baby Bumps of 2012


Why did we start saying "baby bump" around 2003 to mean "the enlarged abdomen of a pregnant woman?" We already had "pregnant" or the expression "she's showing."

Since 1980, we have been calling it "big data" when there was a collection of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools

The word "catfish" took on a new non-fish meaning of a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. It comes from the the 2010 documentary called Catfish (which led to an MTV show). In that pseudo-documentary, a man has an online friendship with a woman that turns out to be far different than a Facebook profile.

Not all the words are new to English/ "Fracking" has been around since 1953, but it has been much more in the news and media the past 10 years. It's time has come.

Here are a few other "new " words in English.

crowdfunding (n., 2006): the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people esp. from the online community

e-waste (n., 2004): waste consisting of discarded electronic products (as computers, televisions, and cell phones)

gamification (n., 2010): the process of adding game or gamelike elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation

hashtag (n., 2008): a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that clarifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)

selfie (n., 2002): an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera esp. for posting on social networks.

social networking (n., 1998): the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships esp. online

spoiler alert (n., 1994): a reviewer’s warning that a plot spoiler is about to be revealed

unfriend (v., 2003): to remove (someone) from a list of designated friends on a person’s social networking Web site

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