Last week, the American dictionary company Merriam-Webster announced that it had added 100 new words & definitions to its Collegiate Dictionary [= dictionary for people in college/university]!
These words are slang words and words that have been created to describe new events or products. They have been in use for a few years, but this is the first time they will be in a Merriam-Webster dictionary. You may see or hear these words when you watch American TV shows & movies, or read American magazines & newspapers.
The company did not publish the entire list of words, but here are some words I was able to find. I also provide some examples of the words used in headlines, so you can better understand the context:
1. Aha moment
This expression was made famous by daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey. “Aha!” is a common English interjection. It’s a sound that English speakers make when they finally see, find, or understand something. Oprah used the expression ‘aha moment’ to describe something similar: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension. It’s that moment when you suddenly understand something: an idea, your path in life, a situation, anything.
A bromance is a close, nonsexual friendship between two men.
Bromance = brother + romance (even though a bromance is non-romantic!)
Rolling Stone (magazine): Fatboy Slim, Russell Brand share ‘bromance’ at Olympic Ceremony
Newser.com: Hollywood’s Hottest Bromances
3. bucket list
This was actually the title of a 2007 Hollywood movie with Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman. The two characters in the film had terminal cancer [=cancer that will lead to death], and decided to go on a trip to do all the things they had never done before but wanted to do before they died. We used to use the expression ‘things to do before I die,’ but it is now more common to talk about things on one’s bucket list.
It comes from the idiom ‘to kick the bucket,’ which is a very informal way to say ‘die.’
5. craft beer
Most brands of beer in the world are made by large breweries [ =companies that make beer]: Budweiser, Heineken, Molsons, etc. ‘Microbreweries’ are smaller companies that make beer, and microbreweries often make ‘craft beer’: a special beer that is produced in small amounts.
You cannot walk to your local store and buy a craft beer. Craft beers are not widely available like Molsons, Heineken, etc.
An example of a craft beer is the beer that U.S. President Obama makes at the White House: White House Honey Ale
6. energy drink
The best example of an energy drink is Red Bull. It’s a drink that helps you feel more awake. This kind of drink is carbonated [ =fizzy, with lots of small bubbles at the top]. It contains ingredients like caffeine (usually found in coffee), taurine, or ginseng, that increase your energy.
The best example of an e-reader is a Kindle. An e-reader is an an electronic reading device [electronic + reader = e-reader]. It is used to read an e-book [=a digital book; electronic + book = e-book]. It is also portable, meaning you can carry it with you wherever you go.
This is a way to describe the ‘f-word’ (fuck) in English. The f-word is a swear word, so instead of using it, people use a euphemism. ‘F-bomb’ is not the actual word, it’s a way to describe the word.
Chicago Tribune: Joe Biden drops f-bomb during news conference
(U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the f-bomb during a news conference. He said to Obama, “It’s a big fucking deal.”)
*This is the word that got the most attention when the announcement was made. Many people were angry that this word was included in a dictionary!
9. game changer
Something (or someone) introduced into a situation or activity that changes things significantly (usually positively).
Yahoo! Sports: Van Persie signing ‘an absolute game changer’, claims Peter Schmeichel
(Soccer/football team Manchester United signed Robin van Persie to the team. Peter Schmeichel believes this is a good thing for the team. It will make ManU a better team & it will help them win more games.)
Examiner.com: Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1 is a game changer
(Samsung has introduced its new tablet. The company believes it is better than other tablets (like the iPad) and will change the tablet market.)
10. life coach
A life coach is exactly that: a coach who helps you with your life. A life coach helps you set goals in your life and reach them. He/She gives you advice and guidance, and helps you solve problems in your life.
11. man cave
A man cave is a space or room in a house that is just for a man and his friends. The decor is very masculine, and it’s a place where men can drink beer & watch football, boxing, … or whatever it is men do.
A mash-up is something (a piece of music, for example) created by combining two or more existing things. For example, the song ‘Numb/Encore‘ is a mash-up of the songs ‘Numb’ by Linkin Park, and ‘Encore’ by Jay-Z.
The word ‘mash-up’ became popular in 2004 when Danger Mouse released The Grey Album. He combined Jay-Z’s voice from his The Black Album with music from the Beatles The White Album.
Others kinds of mash-ups:
– movies & videos
– web services & applications
To ‘text’ someone = to send someone a short message on a cellphone. A text is usually just words, but can also include photos. ‘Texting’ is the gerund form of ‘text.’
sex + texting = sexting
‘Sexting’ is the act of sending sexual messages or naked pictures of yourself to someone’s cellphone. It is possible to use ‘sext’ as a verb.
This word was used a lot in the U.S. in early 2009. The U.S. government wanted to spend money on shovel-ready projects to improve the economy & help it recover from a recession.
A shovel is a tool used to dig holes in the ground, and lift & remove dirt. Shovels are used on construction projects, like making new roads or buildings.
If a project is shovel-ready, it is ready to begin. The shovels are ready to dig into the ground and get started on the project. The project just needs money to begin.
15. tipping point
This expression was made popular by the book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.
If something tips, it leans to one side or falls over. The tipping point in a situation, project, or process, is the point when things past that point will never be the same. The effect or change cannot be stopped or undone.
Wall Street Journal: Augusta National Reaches Its Tipping Point
(The 79-year-old Augusta National golf club admitted women for the first time in its history.)
Globe & Mail: Women’s soccer at a tipping point in Canada after Olympic odyssey
(The Canadian women’s soccer team won a bronze medal at the Olympics. People hope this will encourage young women to join a soccer team.)
This new definition is a result of something that happened in the American economy. Starting around 2006, the housing market collapsed and house values decreased. Many homeowners found themselves underwater.
When people buy a house, they go to the bank and ask for a loan. A loan for a house is called a mortgage. To be ‘underwater’ is to owe more money to the bank than the home is worth. For example, if you have $100,000 mortgage with a bank, but your home is only worth $75,000, your home is underwater. If you sell the house, you will not be able to pay the bank $100,000.
Celebrity-gossip.net: Olympian Ryan Lochte’s Parents Underwater on Home Mortgage
Not everyone is happy about these words being added to the dictionary! Some people believe that a dictionary should be a formal educational book that teaches people what words to use. They believe slang words should NOT be in a dictionary. Other people believe that a dictionary include all words used in a culture.