The publisher announced on Wednesday that it has included a number of internet slang and pop culture references into its latest dictionary update. According to Merriam-Webster, when many people use a word in the same way over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion in its dictionary.
"Some of these words will amuse or inspire, others may provoke debate. Our job is to capture the language as it is used," said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in a statement obtained by NPR. "Words offer a window into our ever-changing language and culture, and are only added to the dictionary when there is clear and sustained evidence of use."
One of those words, which has recently made a comeback as the fall season draws near, is pumpkin spice. The “mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice” has been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mainly because of its growing popularity due to the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Abbreviations such as ICYMI (in case you missed it) and FWIW (for what it’s worth) made its way into the new dictionary as well, plus Covid-19-related words like subvarient, false positive, and booster dose.
Back in 2020, Merriam-Webster added several new pandemic-era words to its dictionary, “but the effects of COVID-19 on our lives – and our language – continue to be felt,” the publisher said.
Merriam-Webster also explained that adding slang words into its dictionary has “traditionally taken longer to meet our criteria”, but the internet’s accelerating adoption of informal language has prompted the publisher to recognise the impact of internet slang.
Adorkable, a mashup of adorable and dork, means to be “socially awkward or quirky in a way that is endearing”. Yeet can be used to “express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm”, or to throw something “with force and without regard for the thing being thrown”.
“Sus” is slang for suspicious or suspect, and “cringe” describes something that is so embarrassing and awkward that it causes one to cringe.