Merriam-Webster Adds More Than 530 New Words to Dictionary

From time to time, Merriam-Webster makes revisions to the dictionary and for September 2019 the publication made the decision to add 533 new words and meanings. Along with the additions, Merriam-Webster has made more than 4,000 revisions to definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and dates of first known use.

The last batch of new words from Merriam-Webster came back in April 2019.

“New words are a happy fact of life for a living language, and taking careful stock of the words that we use is an important part of the work of dictionary editors,” the website read. “Words can come and go in a language, but those that show staying power and increasing use need to be recorded and described. In other words: they need definitions.”

Among the new words are “sesh”, “red flag law”, “coulrophobia”, “dad joke”, and many more.

Merriam-Webster also added terms regarding racial identity and gender like “colorism” which is described as prejudice within a racial group favoring people with lighter skin, and “they” which is a nonbinary gender identity.

You can check out the announcement from Merriam-Webster here and some of the top new additions below.

Merriam-Webster September 2019 Additions

Colorism: prejudice or discrimination especially within a racial or ethnic group favoring people with lighter skin over those with darker skin.

Coulrophobia: meaning “abnormal fear of clowns.” Although Hollywood releases and dictionary updates are not coordinated, even for publicity purposes, this entry hits your screens within weeks of the premieres of both It Chapter Two and Joker.

Dad joke: a wholesome joke of the type said to be told by fathers with a punchline that is often an obvious or predictable pun or play on words and usually judged to be endearingly corny or unfunny

Deep state: an alleged secret governmental network operating extralegally. It may feel as though the term has been around since the time when men wore fedoras in Washington, but current evidence dates it only to the dawn of the current century.

Pickleball: a newly popular court sport played with short-handled paddles and a perforated plastic ball (and an entry with a championship-level etymology).

Red flag law: a law allowing courts to prevent people who show signs of being a danger to themselves or others from having access to firearms. It has only been in use since 2015, and its synonym, extreme risk law, dates to 2017.

Sesh: a shortening of session.

Stinger: the name for short scene that appears during or after the closing credits of a movie.

They: expanded to include this sense: “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.” It’s an expansion of a use that is sometimes called the “singular they” (and one that has a long history in English). When a reflexive pronoun corresponding to singular use of they is needed, themself is seeing increasing use.

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