Column: Can I have a word?


Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt

The Oxford English Dictionary is at it again, welcoming a fresh batch of words into its hallowed halls. In all, 700 words and meanings (senses) got added to the OED in June. Here are some of the highlights:

Amirite: A colloquial interjection that is a variant of “am I right?” At first glance, I thought this was one of the groups who fought against the Israelites in the Bible.

Cardstock: The stuff that always jams the printer. No, I did not want to print my expense report on 24 lb. salmon cardstock.

Festie: A person who enjoys attending festivals. Many festies were duped when they bought tickets for the Fyre Festival back in 2017.

Glitter bomb: A shower of glitter thrown onto someone, as a prank or protest. You can also mail someone a glitter bomb by simply filling the envelope with glitter.

Slow clap: A steady clap to indicate a sort of sarcastic acknowledgment. During the virtual meeting, our entire office slow-clapped to the point of a standing slow clap ovation when Debbie finally figured out how to unmute herself.

Social distance: To keep distance from another person in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease. My friends have been socially distancing themselves from me for years.

Staycation: A vacation where you don’t go anywhere. Because people haven’t been traveling up until recently, staycations have helped many people keep their sanity. You can only stay in your house for so long.

Unmute: This has been a musical term up until the recent popularity of meetings over video conference programs such as Zoom. When you’re “on mute,” no one can hear you even though you are talking. When you “unmute” yourself, people can hear your great ideas again (for better or for worse).

Voice assistant: Voice-activated program or device that responds to queries and commands. Is it just me, or has Alexa gotten way smarter than Siri?

Vote-by-mail: This method of casting a ballot in an election has been around for a while, but it’s just now showing up in the OED. In the 2020 presidential election, 46 percent of the votes were cast by mail or absentee ballot. In 2016, about 24 percent of the ballots were vote-by-mail ballots.

Wildland: A region or area in an uncultivated, natural state. Sadly, these areas are shrinking rapidly as humans continue to build more and more mixed-use condos.

Is there a word you’d like to see added to the dictionary? Is there a word you’d like to permanently ban from the dictionary? Feel free to send me an email; just don’t send me a glitter bomb postcard on glossy cardstock from your staycation.