Tag Archives: Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year

As each year comes to a close, the various dictionary companies present their “words of the year,” based on how often those words were looked up.

The 2018 Word of the Year for Merriam-Webster is JUSTICE. I wondered why this particular word was so frequently looked up, as it’s one most people would be familiar with. Merriam-Webster’s guess is because the Department of Justice was cited so often this past year because of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s dealings with the Russians. Now it remains to be seen whether justice will be served.

In case you were wondering (and even if you weren’t), here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Merriam brothers and Noah Webster:

  • In 1828, George and Charles Merriam founded the company as G & C Merriam Co. in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1843, after Noah Webster died, the company bought the rights to An American Dictionary of the English Language from Webster’s estate.
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Merriam-Webster Time Traveler

Unknown.jpegThis is fun—check out this link: Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler. Enter any year and find what words were first introduced into the M-W Dictionary that year. See what words were born when you were.

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Words of 2017, Misused and Overused

 

Unknown.jpegLake Superior State University, of Northern Michigan, released its 43rd annual list of words and phrases that chilled many of us to the core in 2017. Here are the 14 that made the list:

Unpack (not talking about suitcases here)

Tons

Dish

Pre-owned

Onboarding/Offboarding

Nothingburger

Let that sink in

Let me ask you this

Impactful (I can still recall the first time I heard this, about eight years ago, and I’m still shuddering)

Covfefe (Did we ever figure out what this meant?)

Drill down

Fake news

Hot water heater (It’s a cold water heater—or just a water heater)

Gig economy

Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year is youthquake, while Merriam- Webster went with feminism.

I’d also add “Believe me.” When I hear that, I immediately question the veracity of the speaker. What are your “favorites”?

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The Seven Forbidden Words

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No, not the ones George Carlin once observed could not be said on TV (but now are  commonly heard). These come from the Trump administration, which informed the Centers for Disease Control that the following words will not be acceptable when preparing the budget for 2018:

-Vulnerable

-Entitlement

-Diversity

-Transgender

-Fetus

-Evidence-based

-Science-based

The CDC is a scientific organization. Try writing for that organization without using the words on the list. If you remember the term “newspeak,” from George Orwell’s 1984,  you may be shuddering, as am I. Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of newspeak:

propagandistic language marked by euphemism, circumlocution, and the inversion of customary meanings

 In other words, reshaping and restructuring language to suit political ends, and the truth be damned.

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Merriam Dictionary’s Word of the Year

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 SURREAL

bizarre: a surreal mix of fact and fantasy

Are we surprised? Interestingly, searches for this word peaked on November 9, the day after the presidential election.

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Bigly?

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© Judi Birnberg  My Bigliest Painting

If you were among the 84 million people who watched Monday night’s presidential debate, you might have sat up straighter in your seat when Donald Trump announced, “I’m going to cut taxes bigly.” My posture suddenly improved as I yelped, “BIGLY?” Perhaps, as many now think, he meant to say “big league.” But he didn’t say that.

I then joined the  zillions of people googling “bigly” and discovered that it is, according to Kory Stamper, a linguist with Merriam-Webster, a word that dates to approximately 1400, when it was used to mean “with great force” or “boastfully.” Then “bigly” disappeared for a very long time, only to be curiously resurrected this past  Monday night.

I started thinking: If we do something “grandly,” “spaciously,” minutely,” or “microscopically,” then we could do something bigly. If we wanted to. I don’t want to. How about you?

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