New words in the dictionary explained
“Yep, English is literally dead,” Merriam-Webster wrote on its social media account in a retweet of a viral post belonging to David Burge a.k.a Iowahawkblog about irregardless being an official entry in the dictionary early this month. Since then, the term has been the talk of the town, and debates on whether or not it should even be included in the lexicon has spread across the internet.
Just to be clear, irregardless has been recorded in the Wentworth American Dialect Dictionary since 1912 as originating from western Indiana. Meanwhile, it was first included in Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged edition in 1934.
Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, American Heritage, Oxford, and other dictionaries acknowledge the word, simply because it meets the criteria for inclusion—widespread usage and near-constant use. Millions of people across a wide geographic range have used the term for a long time, approximately 200 years or so. The origin is unclear, but speculations reveal that irregardless might have originated in 1795 as a portmanteau of irrespective and regardless. Despite its age, it has remained objectionable to many, especially to people facetiously referred to as the disirregardlessers. Can we blame them? It’s a crude marriage of a prefix and a suffix that both indicate negation. Publications, writers, journalists, even dictionaries, generally valuate the word as a nonstandard, which means, as Merriam-Webster explains, that it is “not conforming in pronunciation, grammatical construction, idiom, or word choice to the usage generally characteristic of educated native speakers of the language.”
Each year, lexicographers, the authors and editors of dictionaries, add and remove from the wordbook, as the English language constantly evolves. On one hand, terms with waning popularity become obsolete, and are taken out of the catalogue or labeled as such. New words, on the other hand, arise from expanding disciplines, some from pop culture, which gives birth to slang that, more often than not, goes mainstream. Definitions also shift, and words gain additional nuances. That said, it’s time for a brief vocabulary lesson. Here are some of the most interesting words that have just made it to various dictionaries this year.
“You blert! Stay alert, or you’ll get hurt,” Bert blurts.
noun /ˌklaɪ.mət ɪˈmɜː.dʒən.si/
The bigger more intense sibling of climate change. This tackles urgent problems on world weather and level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Like the Covid-19 cases, climate emergency issues were ignored.
A mild to severe respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, last year. Also known as the great toilet paper crisis of 2020.
The bedridden Patxi coughed his lungs out, for what he thought was just a common flu turned out to be Covid-19.
noun /ˈelbəʊ bʌmp/
greeting by touching someone else’s elbow with yours
I wanted to do an air beso, but we opted for an elbow bump.
an expression that could either mean overwhelmingly bad or remarkable.
Stuck in hellacious traffic, he would have been in a foul mood if not for Kris Kristofferson‘s “Hellacious acres,” his favorite song, playing on the stereo.
Irrational fear of doctors.
John has Iatrophobia, which is why he makes it a habit to eat an apple a day.
Anxiety over not having a mobile phone.
From Nomophobia to no more phobia, he finally got over his addiction to mobile phones.
Shelter in place
noun /ˌʃɛltər ɪn ˈpleɪs/
a public directive requiring people to remain indoors or at home at all times.
The introverts had been strictly observing the order to shelter in place, way before it was even made.
work/ing from home, either as a regular or permanent alternative to office work or on an occasional or temporary basis.
When you’re WFH, it’s important to not just wear your pajamas… Maybe go for yesterday’s clothes that you can grab off the floor
noun /ˌwik ˈsɔs/
that which lacks power, substance, or credibility; pathetic, worthless. Who wants sauce like this?
That government official is so inefficient. He’s such a weak sauce!