Sure, English is a living language. So it makes sense for Merriam-Webster to continually update its dictionary with new words and phrases. It just added a whopping 370, as its editor notes, “to capture the language as it is used.” We love words. But, some of these??? Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Oh, BTW, we borrowed our title from a “spaghetti western,” a phrase that made it into Merriam-Webster decades ago but is now pejorative for low-budget Western films made overseas. Yikes!
Shrinkflation. Good one! It describes how companies are adding to their bottom line by reducing the size or quantity of a product while charging us the same price. Shrinkflation didn’t fool us for long. We noticed when our junk food ran out faster.
“Side hustle” carries some lingering negative connotations for us. But, today, it describes work done in addition to a person’s primary job…a definite help during this inflationary period but not really of interest to we retired folks.
Covid sure was responsible for a bunch of the dictionary additions. Okay, we’ll go with “subvariant.” But, we don’t think “booster dose,” “false negative,” and “false positive” are needed new phrases. They simply put together two common words to form a phrase we easily figured out!
We missed “dumbphone.” But since we have smartphones, we got it. The “supply chain” phrase sure hits home when we can’t find some of our favorite stuff at the grocery. And every time we hear the word “metaverse,” we roll our eyes. We are not big Zuckerberg fans.
Apparently we are not on social media enough because we have never heard the word “adorkable,” which pretty much means awkward or quirky in an adorable way. Okay, cute.
But, “yeet”? We’ll put that one in the bad category. It describes tossing an item violently. It can also be used as an interjection. Example: After finishing her soda, Harriet proceeded to “yeet” it into the trash while shouting “yeet.” We’ll take a pass.
“Cringe” has been hijacked and is now slang for embarrassing and awkward. Cringe to us means wincing in disgust. If we do cringe in disgust now, are we now cringy??? More bad.
We enjoyed MacGyver, who tackled high-risk missions around the world, and Will Forte’s MacGruber skits on Saturday Night Live. MacGruber bungled deactivating ticking bombs blowing everyone up. Now “MacGyver” is a VERB!? It’s used to describe making or fixing something with whatever you have on hand. Clever or just huh???
Falling into the ugly category are some of the new “words” created through initialism—acronyms created from the first letters of the words. Okay, we bought into OMG, LOL, TMI, and BTW; and, TBH, this shorthand saves a bunch of typing. Catch that last one? Be honest!
ICYMI is another one of the additions, in case you missed it. Also, FTW…for the win.” It’s defined as an enthusiastic emphasis to the end of a comment and often meant sarcastically. No, not interested.
OMG! ICYMI! Almost forgot the food world’s influence on the dictionary additions. “Pumpkin spice” finally made it as well as “oat milk” and “plant-based.” Heh, Merriam-Webster, pretty slow on these additions. Though look for a change in the “oat milk” phrase if farmers get a new law passed that forbids non-dairy products from being labeled milk!
So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Enjoy the “dawn chorus”—the singing of the birds that precedes and follows sunrise. Sweet! Start memorizing these new acronyms, words, and phrases if you want to be able to do crossword puzzles in the future. Only getting acronyms like NASA won’t cut it. Knowing “terraform” will help if the clue is transforming a planet to support human life. Doubt that will happen, so every day enjoy the here and now!
P.S. Geez, Merriam-Webster, science fiction fans have known the term “terraform” forever! You were late on that one too