New Words Added to Dictionary!

Merriam-Webster has announced that it will be adding 100 new words to the 2006 copyright version of the best-selling Merriam-Webster’s CollegiateÃ?® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition-available this fall in bookstores everywhere.. The new words seem to be fairly evenly divided among categories such as 1)Technology and Computers; 2) Science and Medicine; 3) Pop Culture; 4) Entertainment and Leisure; 5) The Human Condition; 7) International; 8) Business and Industry; 9) Nature; and that old standby – 10) Miscellaneous.

You may not be surprised to see the new words list contain such terms as “avian influenza,” “gastric bypass,” and “supersize“, but you may feel a little out of touch with the world around you when you see some of the new words and have no idea what they mean without looking up the definition! “Soul patch,” for example. Does anyone over 30 know what this phrase means? Sounds like a nicotine patch for the spirit, huh? Well, actually, a soul patch is that weird little “beard,” for lack of a better term, that some men are now growing right in that little cleft above the chin and under their lower lip. Thank goodness I now know the right terminology – I no longer have to turn to my husband and say “what is that weird thing growing under your lower lip?” Now, I just have to say, “SHAVE the soul patch!”

It may seem to you (it did to me) that “soul patch” should have been categorized under “The Human Condition,” along with such words as “drama queen” and “unibrow.” But for some reason, Merriam placed it in the “pop culture” category. Could that possibly mean (dare we hope?) that they assume this is a fad that soon will pass?

While the addition of the medical term “SARS” makes sense, some other medical terms seem like words that should have been added long ago – “otology,” for example. The study of the ear and its diseases. Tell me again, how long has it been since we developed ears? And diseases thereof????? Very strange.

And what about this new type of doctor – hospitalist (“a physician who specializes in treating hospitalized patients of other physicians in order to minimize the number of hospital visits by other physicians”). Ah, the wonderful world of HMOs!!

Technology-based words always seem to be necessary inclusions on “new words in the dictionary” lists. The latest list includes words such as “ringtone,” “spyware,” “metadata,” “steganography” (look it up!!), “wi-fi” and “google” (used as a verb, of course).

Some words just seem (to me, at least) to be totally unnecessary in any context – let alone be widely used enough to justify putting them in the dictionary!! “Labelmate,” for instance. “A singer or musician who records for the same company as another.” OkâÂ?¦ Or how about “Zaibatsu.” “A powerful financial and industrial conglomerate of Japan” âÂ?¦ uh-huh âÂ?¦ sounds like a word the Japanese might be interested in … I guess the world truly is becoming smaller.

Ah well, enough analysis. Just sit back and let your memories glide over the year that has brought these words into our collective dictionary consciousness: brain freeze, bling, empty suit, bikini wax, chick flick, civil union, hazmat, DHS (Department of Homeland Security), and bodyboard.

While adding new words to the dictionary may seem an odd notion to many, a look back in history shows us that it is an all-together necessary phenomenon. This year, we are celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of America’s first dictionary-Noah Webster’s A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Just look at some of the words which were added that year: electrician, psychology, skunk, checkers, immigrant, surf, energize, emphasize, demoralize!! And, last but not least, “Americanize”. Ah yes, the world is changing every day, and the dictionary is doing it’s best to keep up.

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