- Books, Literature, and Writing
The F-Bomb Drops In On Merriam-Webster
Exhibit 1: A Man Cave
Exhibit 2: Copernicium
Exhibit 3: Sexting
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 cave – A 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?