Column: A new word order

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After many months of me complaining to Merriam-Webster’s “Contact Us” page, the savvy Merry Webbers have added 370 new words to the dictionary.

Whether you love the new words or hate them, they made the cut. Keep in mind, the dictionary’s job is to include and define words that are part of our cultural lexicon. Let’s hit a few highlights from the new list.

  • Space Force: this is the term for our official branch of the military tasked with keeping us safe from Darth Vader. Now the Coast Guard has someone to make fun of.
  • Shrinkflation: when a product gets smaller but continues to cost the same amount. For example, if you go to the store to buy Simply Lemonade, you’ll pay the same amount of money for a 52-ounce bottle, while the bottle used to be 59 ounces.
  • Booster dose: an extra dose of a “therapeutic agent” to increase the effectiveness of a previous dose. For instance, I benefit from a booster dose of chai when my morning allotment of caffeine wears off.
  • Pumpkin spice: happy fall, y’all. This word addition only makes sense for M-W’s September list, as we’re entering pumpkin-everything season. I’m happy to add pumpkin spice to my dictionary as well as my chai.
  • Magnet fishing: as if beach crawling with a metal detector weren’t enough of a hobby, now people have rigged strong magnets to the end of a rope (picture a fishing pole with a magnet on the end) to reel in underwater metallic objects.
  • Sponcon: sponsored content in social media posts. Sponcon is popular among so-called influencers whose online followers look to them to make decisions on everything from clothing to teeth-whitening treatments.
  • Metaverse (two definitions): 1) the incessant virtual/online world where everything is interconnected, especially as it relates to Facebook and it’s over-arching parent company called Meta. 2) The theory that there are multiple versions of the universe on separate planes of existence. In another version of the metaverse, I have become wealthy from my commentary on the English language.

I’m happy to report that some of the common slang words of my son’s favorite YouTubers made the new list, including “yeet” (to throw with excessive force), “sus” (short for “suspect”), “janky” (of very poor quality) and “cringe” (excessively embarrassing or awkward).

Which word do you think should be added next? Which word do you want to see removed from the dictionary? Feel free to yeet your ideas my way.

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