Dictionary.com recently announced a slew of new words it has added to the dictionary for this year. Changes this year reflect the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on language and hit on a variety of additional themes relating to race, social justice, identity, and culture.
The leading online dictionary has updated 7,600 entries, including 450 new entries and 94 new definitions in existing entries.
First Thing’s First: If the idea of new words being added to the dictionary has you gasping and clutching your pearls, we need to have a talk about language before we talk about the new words. The words found in your dictionary in third grade were not set in stone. English is a living language, and words and meanings change and new words are introduced as new concepts are introduced and as culture changes. This is a normal process that has been going on for hundreds of years and is no reason for outrage.
How 2020 changed language: “2021, so far, is still so much about the events of 2020—and this is true for our work as a dictionary,” said John Kelly, Managing Editor at Dictionary.com. “We continue to keep up with the many ways the pandemic has transformed our language. This includes, for instance, usage notes on capitalizing and spelling COVID-19, a term only added to the dictionary a year ago. This also includes an entry for the name of an application that, for so many of us, became synonymous with life during COVID-19: Zoom.”
New words: Without further adieu, here are some of the words that Dictionary.com added this year.
Doomscrolling: the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Finna: a phonetic spelling representing the African American Vernacular English variant of fixing to,a phrase commonly used in Southern U.S. dialects to mark the immediate future while indicating preparation or planning already in progress: Oh, no, she finna break his heart!
Overpolice: to police excessively, as by maintaining a large police presence or by responding aggressively to minor offenses: The panelists agreed that poor communities are overpoliced, and their residents are more likely to be Black and Latino.
Hybrid learning: education in which the face-to-face classroom experience is combined with or replaced by an online experience that includes synchronous and asynchronous interactions with peers and instructors, and lessons and assessments that can be completed digitally or in person.
Superspreader: Pathology. a person who spreads a contagious disease more easily and widely than the average infected person: About forty percent of the superspreaders had no symptoms of the virus.
Sponcon: sponsored content: Influencers with large social media followings can earn a lot of money with sponcon.
Deepfake: a fake, digitally manipulated video or audio file produced by using deep learning, an advanced type of machine learning, and typically featuring a person’s likeness and voice in a situation that did not actually occur.
Indoor voice: This is a phrase teachers and parents have been using for decades, but it finally made its way into the dictionary. In case you didn’t know, the definition is, a modulated, relatively calm voice, considered polite and socially appropriate when speaking indoors, as at home or in school or in an office (opposed to outside voice): The students were reminded to use their inside voice and not shout their responses in class.
Supposably: as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed:In our modern and supposably transparent era, the government’s motives for war have come into question.
Those are just a few of the 450 new entries this year. You can find more words and information about the new words here.