I realize as an adult, I didn't quite understand that dictionaries are living books when I was growing up.  Meaning, each year, as words or phrases become common in the world, it's the job of dictionaries to realize the cultural importance of the words, and then try to explain them. I always thought when they added the previous year's words that somehow that was lowering the importance of the dictionary.  I guess in a way, I thought of the dictionary as being like the Bible - except the dictionary was more of the "official" history of language, that wasn't supposed to change yearly either.  Boy was I wrong.

I say all of that as Merriam-Webster just released their new word and phrases that are being added to the dictionary after 2020.  520 new words and phrases to be exact.

Some of the new words that are now "officially" part of our culture and language in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary are:

Cancel culture : the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.


Gig worker : a person who works temporary jobs typically in the service sector as an independent contractor or freelancer


Silver fox : an attractive middle-aged man having mostly gray or white hair


Second Gentleman : the husband or male partner of a vice president or second in command of a country or jurisdiction


@ informal : to respond to, challenge, or disparage the claim or opinion of (someone) —usually used in the phrase don't @ me

I was a bit surprised that there weren't more words being added because of COVID-19 - technically, a lot of the words we're used to because of the pandemic such as WFH, PPE, Physical Distancing, self-isolate, even COVID-19 were added back in April 2020 when Merriam-Webster added 535 new phrases and words, so just barely a month after the pandemic really kicked in and changed our world.  The new words just added in 2021 that are associated with the coronavirus were:

  • Long hauler : a person who experiences one or more long-term effects following initial improvement or recovery from a serious illness (such as COVID-19)

  • Pod and Bubble : a usually small group of people (such as family members, friends, coworkers, or classmates) who regularly interact closely with one another but with few or no others in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection during an outbreak of a contagious disease. Bubble also gained an additional meaning: an area within which sports teams stay isolated from the general public during a series of scheduled games so as to prevent exposure to disease and that includes accommodations, amenities, and the location at which the games are held

  • Wet market : a market that sells perishable items (such as fresh meat and produce) and sometimes live animals which are often slaughtered on-site

I do have to say, I'm really surprised that it took this long to add Silver Fox to the dictionary since we've been referring to Anderson Cooper as one for a number of years now. I have to say, I am really happy that we've added Second Gentlemen to the list; it's about time we needed that added.

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