The F-Bomb Drops In On Merriam-Webster

Exhibit 1: A Man Cave

A man cave is reserved for hobbies and other leisurely activities such as working on cars, watching television and drinking beer.
A man cave is reserved for hobbies and other leisurely activities such as working on cars, watching television and drinking beer. | Source

Exhibit 2: Copernicium

Copernicium is an artificial radioactive element.
Copernicium is an artificial radioactive element. | Source

Exhibit 3: Sexting

This teen's phone isn't reserved for emergency use only.
This teen's phone isn't reserved for emergency use only. | Source

What do an f-bomb, a man cave and an underwater mortgage have in common? All three expressions are new residents of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Sure, these words have been in our vernacular for years – but only now have the dictionary’s gatekeepers considered them to be culturally significant.

Any notion of “cultural significance” is of course subjective. If your mortgage was “underwater” in the 1970s, for example, then you might have been familiar with the term long before it came into widespread use a few years ago. You were probably dropping a few f-bombs too.

Here are ten more newcomers to Merriam-Webster’s most recent edition along with paraphrased definitions:

1) Cloud computing – Storing data on servers that are accessed through the Internet

2) Copernicium – An artificial and radioactive element first produced in 1996

3) Earworm – A catchy tune

4) Energy drink – A drink containing caffeine and/or other stimulants

5) F-bomb – A euphemism for the word fuck; in use since at least 1988

6) Gastropub – A tavern or bar that serves high-quality meals

7) Man caveA den, basement or similar personal space that a man devotes to leisure

8) Mash-up – Something created by combining elements from two or more sources. This word has been used since at least 1859. Today it often refers to digital work, e.g., combining elements of several MP3s to create a new song.

9) Sexting – Sending sexually explicit messages via mobile phone

10) Life coach – A person who helps others to identify and achieve personal goals

Microsoft Word, by the way, recognizes all of the above spellings except for copernicium and gastropub. This leaves me wondering about the Microsoft editorial process. When did Microsoft add “sexting” to their spellchecker, and how did that meeting go?

Which words should be added to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary for 2013? Add your suggestion below!

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Comments 2 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

Interesting hub. I actually had not heard of some of the words you mentioned being added to the M-W dictionary this year. Like earworm, for example. The second I typed that word in, the hubpages spellcheck took offense just as it does to the word hubpages.

Voted you up and interesting, and will share with my followers.


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

Yeah it seems like every year they let just about any word into the dictionary. So I guess if I were smart- I'd make up something clever, trademark it and get rich. I know it's not that simple but f-bomb should not be considered an asset of the English language. Cool hub!

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