GrammarPhile Blog

Merriam Webster and OED Are Off the Chain!

Posted by Julie DeSilva   Jan 31, 2012 5:30:00 AM

In 2011 Merriam-Webster added more than 150 new words to the dictionary, including social media and bromance. And the Oxford English Dictionary added such phrases as light-bulb moment and environmentally unfriendly.

Do we really need authorities on language to define for us words and phrases that already exist but are just used in new combinations or in different ways? Are we not smart enough to figure out that social media refers to media that is used for social purposes? Will you ever feel the need to look up the meaning of the word bromance? Or do you hope that as current slang it will just go the way of words and phrases like whizzah and grody to the max?

Perhaps dictionaries feel the need to stay on top of trends in language to stay relevant. Perhaps the older we get the more we feel the need to go to an online dictionary to understand the language of the young’uns and pop culture.

I have to admit, after seeing the movie “Elf” years ago, ginormous has become part of my vocabulary and definitely provides punch that synonyms such as big and large do not. And when my stepdaughter said she wanted her hair to be volumptuous for her wedding, I laughed because I knew that wasn’t a word, but I knew exactly what she meant and thought that it should be—sure enough, go to and it is!


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Topics: vocabulary, dictionary, trends in language

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