Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Keeping Up With Common Usage

Tweep, Yooper, fangirl, freegan, gamification.  These are a few of the 150 words added to the 2014 editions of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.  Many of the new words are related to electronic communications.

This is the first year that "selfie" was added even though it was the word of the year for Oxford Dictionary in 2013.  The editors explained that they prefer to wait until it is certain the word will be used for the long term.  They don't like removing words from the dictionary.

In keeping with the times; hashtag, selfie, social networking, unfriend, tweep, catfish, are among the new words.

hashtag - a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text

selfie - an image of oneself taken using a digital camera, especially for posting on social networks

social networking - the creation and  maintenance of personal and business relationships, especially Online

unfriend - to remove (someone) from a list of designated friends on one's social networking Web site

tweep - a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets

catfish - a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes

The new dictionary

 Words, words, words

So what on earth is a Yooper?  It's a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, used as a nickname.  "Freegan" is an activist who scavenges for free food (as in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants) as a means of reducing consumption of resources.  And "gamification" is the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.  [personal note:  We did this in the 80s calling it teambuilding.]

Other interesting words that caught my eye were:

crowdfunding - the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people, especially the online community

fangirl - a girl or woman who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something  [personal note:  I think this one is sexist.]

turducken - a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck and stuffed into a boneless turkey  [personal note:  this one surprises me because we ordered turducken fifteen years ago from Grasch's Market in WI.]

One change that I really don't like is the second use of the word "literally."  For years I have hated the use of the word when "literal" is far from the real meaning (I literally died laughing.)  Now the editors of Miriam-Webset have listed a second use for the word "literally."  It now means, "in effect, virtually."  And the example given is; <literally
turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice---Norman Cousins>;  [personal note to Miriam-Webster:  long-term use of the wrong word doesn't make it right.]

While the new Miriam Webster includes "dubstep" (a type of electronic dance music having prominent base lines and syncopated drum patterns) it seems to have excluded the word Miley made famous, "twerking."  Perhaps next year.


Mary Lee said...

I read that now there are shelfies and stealthies. I have already forgotten what a shelfie is, but a stealthie is when you pretend you're taking a selfie, but you're actually taking a picture of someone else.

(Autocorrect changed these so many times I almost gave up typing this.)

Cheryl said...

Call me old fashioned but I really loathe all these new words....and I will be absolutely truthful I don't understand half of them :)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm laughing at Mary Lee's comment. That is a new one to me as are a few that you mentioned.
I wish we could ban the word 'like' when it is used more than once in a sentence. Ok, this might just be an issue with my 18yo. She is like totally overusing like, like all the time!
If my head explodes, it could be from 'like'.

Vicki Lane said...

Yeah, I hate allowing the other use of literally too. But language is always changing which is a part of its richness. As a writer, I pay attention to which people use which words -- one's use and/or pronunciation of certain words can reveal so much -- age, sex, social class, location, education . . . just for a start.

robin andrea said...

I am happy to say that I have never heard of most these words. And that second definition of "literal" just knocks me out. Wow.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

This is very interesting. I sure didn't know what these word meant. It's amazing the new words added to the dictionary. I'm so glad you gave the meanings of these words. I need to get a new dictionary. The language is changing too quickly for me.

The Bug said...

Um, hasn't Yooper also been around for years? Or was it just so regional that it wasn't included until now. Hmm...

I literally took so many selfies on our vacation that it almost feels like they added the word just for me! Heh.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Mary Lee - Who knows? Those words might make it next year.

Suz - Along with "like" can we ban "whatever"?

Vicki - I also pay attention to the words people use and how they pronounce them.

barbara cecelia said...

Interesting words being tossed around today. Glad you clarified them. Yooper is one I am familiar with as I was raised in Michigan. If I were to spell the yooper name out how it sounds I would spell it U-per. It's been a name that has been around for a long time. -- barbara