New Dictionary Words: The F-Bomb Finally Gets Respect

The good people who produce Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary have added 100 new words and expressions to their tome this week.

One of the best parts of writing is finding the perfect word for what I want to say. Doesn’t always happen, but I love the thrill of the hunt.

Many of the notable additions to our modern vocabulary are phrases now so commonly used, they warrant a spot in the most popular English dictionary. For 114 years, Webster’s has been studying words and how we use them. There are actual word detectives who do exhaustive research for years on where words start and how often they’re used in media, conversation, even on food labels.

Here are some of my favorite phrases of Webster’s 2012 edition. You may be surprised at the years they originated:

bucket list n (2006): Once it’s a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman it’s gotta get a place in the dictionary.

cloud computing n (2006): The Geek Squad must be thrilled about this one.

earworm n (1802) : a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind. This is a new one to me but I love it! Made popular by Stephen King when he wrote about waking up in the night with a song in his head that just wouldn’t leave.

energy drink n (1904): Can’t believe it took so long to make this one official. My kids have been guzzling Gatorade– claiming it gives them energy– for years.

e-reader n (1999):  I would not have believed an e-reader was possible in 1999 but now everyone I know has one.

life coach n (1986): Life coaches everywhere are breathing deeply and making a conscious decision to feel good about their now legitimized profession.

f-bomb n (1988): Apparently New York Mets catcher Gary Carter mentioned this delightful idiom in an interview in the 80’s but recent political discourse had also established the term, with Dick Cheney dropping an “F-bomb” on the Senate floor in 2004. Classy.

aha moment– n (1939): Sorry Oprah, you didn’t coin this phrase but I’ll give you credit for making it mainstream.

flexitarian n (1998): one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish…In other words, a picky eater with a built-in excuse.

man cave n (1992): Interior designers everywhere are collectively shuddering that the term has an official definition.

sexting n (2007):  The term’s only 5 years old, yet look how far it’s come and how much damage it’s caused.

tipping point n (1959): Thanks Malcolm Gladwell!

underwater adj (1672)  The definition for this new usage: having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth. Sad reality of our present financial frailty.

brain cramp n (1982): What does this mean again?
Any words you think should be added next year? Tell me in the comments.

One response to “New Dictionary Words: The F-Bomb Finally Gets Respect

  1. I like Earworm, but what about an Earbug. When a 6-year-old gets a bug in his ear and it won’t come out!