A Few Words About New Words

Language evolves as our culture changes.

Creative minds constantly make up new words. When the words accurately reflect how we experience life at that moment, they stick. The ones that persist over time become permanent parts of our lexicon.

This month the Merriam-Webster Dictionary added 533 new words or new meanings for old words. Here’s a few of the ones that stick out:

In the short-hand world of social media, it’s no big surprise that abbreviations are now acceptable in place of the original longer word.

Vacation is cut down to Vacay and a session becomes just a Sesh. You no longer will have to search for inspiration, when a little Inspo will work just as well.

We have finally been freed from the impossible awkwardness of using “he/she” when you don’t know the gender of the person you are referring to, a struggle that has been wracking writers for 600 years.

Now it’s ok to use They, when referring to one person when the pronoun is used for a person whose gender is identified as “nonbinary,” neither male nor female.

That fabulous solo entrepreneur you read about? They now can morph into a Solopreneur who is known for their Fabulosity. Cool.

Merriam-Webster states that while many people believe that the Deep State is an old term, it was first used in 2000. The term refers to an alleged secret government network and has been infused with new meaning by our current President.

Back in the 1970s conspiracy-minded folks simply referred to secret government dealings as the military-industrial complex. On rare occasions the network was revealed, like the guns-for-hostage deal run amok in the Iran-Contra Affair.

Now with President Trump’s support, Deep State has made it into the dictionary along with another stinky term, Fatberg, a large mass of solid waste and fat that collects in sewer systems.

The rise of big box stores with lousy customer service — along with the poorly-made, hard-to-assemble products sold everywhere today — has given rise to the term Pain Point, referring to a product or service that inconveniences and annoys customers again and again.

Exhibit A: Pennywise, a scary clown invented by Stephen King, lured his victims with red ballons. This one dangles from the cape of hometown hero Hannibal Hamlin. Photo by Nancy Peckenham.

Coulrophonia, or fear of clowns, is apparently common enough to be included in the dictionary. Certainly if you live in a city like I do that is home to Stephen King, the creator of Pennywise the Clown, you can feel the chilling effect of coulrophonia when red balloons appear mysteriously in this otherwise sedate town (See Exhibit A above).

Movie lovers now can toss around the name of a tool to deploy when they want to dissect a new flick. The Bechdel Test lets them evaluate how the female characters were portrayed in the film.

If analyzing how women are portrayed in movies proves too stressful, you can always seek release by grabbing a paddle and a plastic ball and heading down to the local ball court for a quick game of Pickleball.

Or get away from all the noise of the world by joining your friends in an Escape Room to make a game of trying to get free. Just don’t bring your father to the tight quarters lest he drive you to tears with his boring Dad Jokes.

Written by

TV, print and online journalist. Mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, adventurer, history-lover. www.crowsfeet.life and www.ivebeeneverywhereman.us

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