‘Swole’, ‘buzzy’ among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

Latest additions include mostly new words, or phrases, with some old words offering new meanings

Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and maybe you’ll have a better chance of surviving the omnicide.

Translation: Hit the gym and bulk up, put a bunch of stuff essential for survival in an easy-to-carry bag, grab a drink for the road, and perhaps you’ll live through a man-made disaster that could wipe out the human race.

Swole, bug-out bag, go-cup and omnicide are just a few of the 640 additions to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary added Monday.

Deciding what gets included is a painstaking process involving the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company’s roughly two dozen lexicographers, said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.

They scan online versions of newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books and even movie and television scripts until they detect what he calls “a critical mass” of usage that warrants inclusion.

The words are added to the online dictionary first, before some are later added to print updates of the company’s popular Collegiate Dictionary, which according to company spokeswoman Meghan Lunghi, has sold more than 50 million copies since 1898, making it the “bestselling hardcover book after the Bible.”

“So many people use our website as their principal dictionary and we want it to be current,” Sokolowski said. “We want to be as useful as possible.”

READ MORE: Levidrome slides into everyday lexicon

WATCH: New Indigenous dictionary for SENĆOŦEN released after years of work

The latest additions include mostly new words, or phrases, but also some old words with new meanings or applications.

Take unplug and snowflake, for example. Unplug means to literally tug an electric plug from a wall socket, but now, it also has a more metaphorical meaning, as in to disconnect from social media, he said.

And yes, a snowflake is still a beautiful ice crystal that floats from the sky during winter, but it now also has a usually disparaging meaning of “someone who is overly sensitive,” according to Merriam-Webster’s definition.

Some of the words have been around for decades, but are included in the dictionary because of increased usage.

Omnicide, which means “the destruction of all life,” dates to the Cold War and was used in reference to the threat of nuclear annihilation, but lately it has been used to define the risk of other man-made disasters, primarily climate change.

Popular culture —movies, TV and sports — is a common source of new words, such as buzzy, an adjective that literally means creating a buzz, such as a “buzzy new movie.”

And then there’s EGOT, a noun that refers to an entertainer who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg are among the elite group .

Garbage time, those painful final minutes of a game when one team has an insurmountable lead and both teams empty their benches, has been around since 1960, but is on the latest list of new words.

With the rapid advance of science, many new words come from the fields of technology and medicine.

In the internet age when it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to is accurate, the dictionary is a rock, Sokolowski said.

“We need the dictionary more than ever now that we have information flying at us from all directions,” he said.

Mark Pratt, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

47 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday in Alberta, still 620 active cases

3 active COVID-19 cases remain in Red Deer

Severe thunderstorm watch in place for Sylvan Lake and Eckville

Environment Canada issued the watch Tuesday afternoon.

Benalto artist depicts those lazy, hazy (virus-free) days of summer at Sylvan Lake

David More’s Shore Figures exhibit is showing at the Red Deer museum

Sylvan Lake RCMP seeking assistance identifying theft suspect

The unidentified male took an electric scooter from the shelf of Canadian Tire on July 2

55-year-old male dead in motorcycle collision on Hwy 11A

Sylvan Lake RCMP responded to a 911 report shortly after midnight on July 6

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Daisies bring a sunny look to the garden

Daisies bring a sunny look to the garden

IIHF encouraged by NHL’s potential return to Olympics in ‘22

IIHF encouraged by NHL’s potential return to Olympics in ‘22

Raptors coach Nick Nurse knows attention to family will be key for players

Raptors coach Nick Nurse knows attention to family will be key for players

NFL, NFLPA still haven’t resolved all protocol for camps

NFL, NFLPA still haven’t resolved all protocol for camps

More positive tests, cancelled workouts add to MLB unease

More positive tests, cancelled workouts add to MLB unease

MLS to resume season minus 1 team amid growing virus concern

MLS to resume season minus 1 team amid growing virus concern

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

US government launches campaign to reduce high suicide rates

In risky bid, Trump stokes racial rancour to motivate voters

In risky bid, Trump stokes racial rancour to motivate voters

Most Read