The world has changed a lot over the past year — and, naturally, so did our vocabulary.
Dictionary.com added more than 300 new words and definitions to its latest update to include new terminology and slang.
"It's a complicated and challenging society we live in, and language changes to help us grapple with it," said John Kelly, the managing editor of Dictionary.com, in a press release.
The coronavirus pandemic (2020's word of the year) may slowly be shifting away from its position at the front and center of most conversations, but its impacts are lasting.
And last summer's protests following the murder of George Floyd spurred several diversity initiatives across industries, inspiring new acronyms.
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"Some major products rebranded following criticism and review of the racist stereotypes their original names evoked," Kelly said. "Two such changes are now reflected in our dictionary: Edy’s Pie (formerly Eskimo Pie) and Aunt Jemima (now called Pearl Milling Company)."
"This crucial, if subtle, innovation in terminology encourages people to consider membership in minority groups not as something intrinsic or unchangeable, but as socially constructed — as a reality created and maintained by one group and experienced by another," he explained.
Definitions for "Black Codes" and "Jim Crow" were updated to reflect the past year, as was "one-drop rule" — a social classification, codified in law in some states during the 20th century, that identifies biracial or multiracial individuals as Black if they have any known Black African ancestry, even from a Black ancestor many generations removed.
"Dictionary.com also broadened its definition of 'cultural appropriation' to account for the mainstream adoption of cultural elements from any smaller group, including from minority groups as well as subcultures within dominant groups."
As racial and ethnic groups were targets of violence this year, the definition of "terrorism" was also expanded to include "intimidation or coercion by instilling fear."
"These are difficult topics — and for many, traumatizing. More and more, various forms of media alert users to upsetting or offensive content with a 'content warning,' or CW for short. Both of these terms, along with a new entry for the abbreviation TW for the related 'trigger warning,' are now on Dictionary.com."
As a large part of the world transitioned to working remotely, tech vocabulary expanded to encompass the changes.
Schools got creative and so did entrepreneurs. "Ghost kitchen" (a commercial facility that prepares and cooks restaurant-style food for delivery directly to customers or to one or more dine-in restaurants), "side hustle" (a job or occupation that brings in extra money beyond one's regular job and main source of income) and "scrappy" (having or showing spirit and determination, especially in spite of obstacles) all earned new entries.
The social media phenomenon of "deplatforming" is now defined as prohibiting (a person or people) from sharing their views in a public forum, especially by banning a user from posting on a social media website or application.
And what's a dictionary update without some slang entries?
"Oof," "yeet," "sh-tshow" (People's Choice 2020 Word of the Year), "a**hat" and "zaddy" (not to be confused with "silver fox") were all added to the list. "Y'all" even earned its very own definition — instead of just being a variant of you all, marking the words "distinct prominence in the lexicon" and "spread from southern dialects of American English into the mainstream vernacular."
"Perhaps these lighter slang and pop culture newcomers to our dictionary reflect another important aspect of our time — a cautious optimism and a brighter mood about the future ahead after a trying 2020," said Kelly.
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