Merriam-Webster Adds 850 New Words to Online Dictionary

The Springfield-based reference service is here to help you make sense of everything from "glamping" to "subtweet."

An open dictionary against a blue backdrop

Photo via iStock/Pgiam

Admit it: You still don’t know what cryptocurrency is.

As the Bitcoin bonanza took off in December, you were left in the dark, wondering if every Barbour-sporting tech bro in the Financial District had an extra pep in his step due to some mysterious influx of digitally produced dollars. But there’s good news: Though you may not be making bank on Bitcoin, Springfield-based Merriam-Webster is here to fill in that knowledge gap.

On Monday, the dictionary announced it added 850 new entries to its website—“cryptocurrency,” “initial coin offering,” and “blockchain” among them—providing definitions for words that have become more recent stalwarts in the American lexicon. And the linguistic expansion goes beyond the web economy, here to help you understand everything from your consultant friend’s work lingo to your 15-year-old cousin’s Instagram captions.

Words like “self-care,” “glamping,” and “life hack,” have all been added to Merriam-Webster’s ranks, much to the delight of “wordies” (a new entry meaning “word lover”) everywhere. There’s also a healthy smattering of new words for the farmers’ market crowd. From “kombucha” and “kabocha” to “tzatziki” and “harissa,” Merriam-Webster explains it all. And new entries like “dumpster fire,” “welp,” “subtweet,” and “mansplain” enshrine the cultural zeitgeist in the dictionary, lending linguistic legitimacy to the language of the internet.

In a blog post about the new entries, Merriam-Webster said the evolving nature of the words we read, speak, and type makes it critical for the online resource to stay up-to-date: “If you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update, or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.”

And if thinking too much about all these word nerds has your head spinning, you can always sit down with some “dark chocolate” (apparently it needed a new definition) and “hate watch” your favorite reality TV show.