By Elaine Viets
New words are supposed to be the sign of a living language. In that case, English is not only alive and kicking, it’s dancing barefoot around the room. Recently, Webster added 690 new words to the dictionary. Many are Gen-Z words that have officially entered the language.
Do you use any of these words in your writing? How about your speech?
Beast mode: an extremely aggressive or energetic style or manner that someone (such as an athlete) adopts temporarily (as to overpower an opponent in a fight or competition).
Doomscroll is a verb meaning, “to spend excessive time online scrolling through news or other content that makes one feel sad, anxious, angry, etc.” I expect to do a lot of doomscrolling as the 2024 Presidential election gets closer.
Chef’s kiss is “a gesture of satisfaction or approval made by kissing the fingertips of one hand and then spreading the fingers with an outward motion.” Often used as an interjection.
Here’s an example: “The crab itself deserved a chef’s kiss—not only was it clear that it was good quality crab that had been handled with care, but it also had this mouthwatering consistency that held its integrity until you bit into it. Then it was like a burst of flavor.—Amy Martino.”
Cheffy is an adjective describing the “the characteristic of or befitting a professional chef (as in showiness, complexity or exoticness.
You can’t go online without encountering tiny house. That’s “a small house or mobile home that typically has a floor plan of less than 500 feet and is usually designed for ergonomics and space efficiency.”
Thirst trap is “a photograph (such as a selfie) or video shared for the purpose of attracting attention or desire; also : someone or something that attracts attention or strong desire.” Kim Kardashian and her selfies are the definition of the word.
Girlboss is “an ambitious and successful woman (especially a businesswoman or entrepreneur).” Forbes magazine wrote “But almost every notable girlboss tumbled out of the C-suite in rapid succession in June 2020.”
Really? Girlboss? Did that word escape from the 1950s?
Nope, Webster first noticed it in 2016. That’s one word I’m not planning to use.
GOATED: An adjective meaning, “considered to be the greatest of all time,” Webster said. I think it’s presumptuous, unless you can see into the future.
Zhuzh: To kick it up a notch. Webster credits Queer Eye’s “original fashion guru, Carson Kressley for making zhuzh popular.” This show also brought you metrosexual.
“Zhuzh describes the act of making slight improvements or accents to a wardrobe or look (such as by adding a pocket square, teasing one’s hair, or popping a shirt collar),” Webster says. That’s Carson in the middle of this photo below.
Rizz means “romantic appeal or charm.”
Old words with new definitions.
Doggo. To lie doggo means to hide, but now doggo has been repurposed as slang for dog.
Bingo card: This is not your Aunt Myrtle’s bingo card, the one she played in the church basement. Webster also says it “means a list of possible, expected or likely scenarios.” As Molly Taylor wrote, “I’m pretty sure nobody had ‘global pandemic’ on their bingo cards back in 2016 …”
Hallucination has taken on a new meaning in the computer world. This is how Webster defines it: “a plausible but false or misleading response generated by an artificial intelligence algorithm.”
Webster gives this example: “This type of artificial intelligence we’re talking about can sometimes lead to something we call hallucination,” said Prabhakar Raghavan in an interview . . . “This is then expressed in such a way that a machine delivers a convincing but completely fictitious answer.”
Simp used to be a simple word. It meant someone who’s not too bright. Now it’s sprouted several new meanings.
Webster says simp can be informal and often disparaging. “Someone (especially a man) who shows excessive concern, attention, or deference toward a romantic partner or love interest.” Margaret Taylor says a simp is “… multiple videos offering examples of what makes someone a simp, like wearing a nice outfit to school and hoping your crush notices only for them to be absent.—Magdalene Taylor.”
Or, a simp can be someone who “has a marked fondness or desire for something.” Morgan Sung used it this way: “… as a simp for multifunctional appliances, I was enamored off the bat.”
And last but not least, simp can be a rather awkward intransitive verb. Webster gives this example from John James: “A Brazilian influencer has taken simping for the richest man on earth to a new level by getting Elon Musk’s name … tattooed across his forehead.”
Oh, that’s what that is:
Some new definitions give us words we need.
Bracketology is “the practice or study of predicting the outcome of elimination tournaments or competitions especially in NCAA college basketball.”
Vanity card is “the logo of a production company that appears briefly on-screen following the credits for a television show or movie.” Executive producer and writer Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards are famous. Here’s one:
Kayfabe is “the tacit agreement between professional wrestlers and their fans to pretend that overtly staged wrestling events, stories, characters, etc., are genuine.”
Hah! True wrestling fans know wrestling is real and the rest of the world is kayfabe. The word has been around more than 50 years. Webster mentions “. .. a letter to the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune concerning a fight between Dick the Bruiser and Angelo Poffo is signed ‘Mark Kayfabe,’ a name presumably made up from mark ‘the victim of a con’ and kayfabe.”
Like words and word play? Check out this page at Webster’s dictionary: https://www.merriam-webster.com/wordplay/new-words-in-the-dictionary
You’ll enjoy it. As Webster says, TTYL — Talk to you later.
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