At the beginning of April, Dictionary.com released 300 new words that have been added to their most recent update. Some of these words include: man bun, friendiversary, dad bod, dabbing, Black Lives Matter and cold brew.
It’s easy to feel uncomfortable at first about some of these words and what they say about our generation, but there’s no need to worry: Our language is always changing, just like the hairstyle habits of the guys who try man buns.
Other words on this newly-revised list are: 4-20, mic drop, sext, hangry and lightsaber. I’m not too excited to be a part of the generation that added “sext” to the dictionary, but let’s be real: “lightsaber” should have been added a long time ago.
I am not worried that some of these words reflect negative aspects of our generation, because there’s beauty in language and its ever-changing manner. It is kind of amazing that the way we communicate is always being revised.
Everyday, new words are being made up and combined to mean something different. To me, it shows creativity, and as a writer I feel like it gives me more freedom, even though I probably won’t be using the word “dabbing” in too many of my articles.
Samantha DuPar, a sophomore English major, isn’t surprised by some of the new words that have been added.
“I believe that these words are a reflection of the kind of world we live in right now, whether that be a positive or negative reflection,” DuPar said.
A lot of these words seem to be connected to memes or music and dancing trends or whatever is popular on Twitter, like “slay” or “cheat day”. But others were inspired by social justice movements, like “Black Lives Matter” while others were in response to the current political climate, like “stochastic terrorism”.
Some words are just phases that will probably fade soon. I think of the word “swag.” When I was in middle school, that word was used so often. Now, it’s only used as an ode to my awkward, angsty days.
Chelsea Sterling, a junior liberal studies major, is currently taking a linguistics course that studies the English language and its structure.
“It’s important to keep in mind that language is always changing,” Sterling said. “Language can change so much just based upon the words and phrases that are commonly used regardless of whether they hold actual meaning.”
Sterling has been able to understand that certain words come and go, but they can play a large role in societal norms. For the language purists in the world, these new words can seem absolutely appalling. Poor Shakespeare is probably rolling over in his grave.
Harrison Birkett, a senior English major, understands that language changes often, but is skeptical about the direction it’s heading now.
“I’m not particularly excited about Dictionary.com adding all these words,” Birkett said. “Or that these are some of the words my culture has developed.”
Birkett prefers using concise language, calling himself “pretty old-fashioned.”
It does kind of feel like someone scrolled through a middle school student’s iPhone and picked out their most used words. However, the actual process of adding new words involves a lot of research.
Dictionary.com uses lexicographers, which are people who focus on the compilation and evaluation of new words in the dictionary.
CNN interviewed Jane Solomon, a lexicographer for Dictionary.com, and asked her about the intentional research that was used to pick these new words.
“We can see what words people have tried to look up on Dictionary.com that haven’t led to a definition,” Solomon said. “It takes a lot of time and effort and thought…we give every word the same amount of respect and attention and care.”
While some of these words may feel shallow or meaningless, they really are well-studied and picked with intention.
Language is flexible, thoughtful, creative and always changing. We can learn from these new additions that the power is really in the ever-changing behavior and trends of our generation. So if you’re not happy with these new words, know that you have the great ability to change it.