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New Words and Phrases for 2022


Merriam-Webster adds 455 new words to dictionary

According to Merriam-Webster, “A new word is entered in our dictionary when evidence shows it in frequent use by many writers. Usually, this process takes at least a few years, but there are extraordinary cases when a new term enters the language and immediately becomes part of our collective daily vocabulary. Such is the case with the language of the current pandemic.”

It is no wonder that our vocabulary has changed over the past year. Here are a few of the new words that are added in this year’s MW dictionary. Readers and writers are (mostly) embracing these words, however, well, let me know what you think.

  • TBH: an abbreviation for “to be honest.” TBH is frequently used in social media and text messaging.

  • amirite: slang used in writing for “am I right” to represent or imitate the use of this phrase as a tag question in informal speech. An example: “English spelling is consistently inconsistent, amirite?”

  • FTW: an abbreviation for “for the win” — used specially to express approval or support. In social media, FTW is often used to acknowledge a clever or funny response to a question or meme.

  • deplatform: to remove and ban (a registered user) from a mass communication medium (such as a social networking or blogging website) broadly: to prevent from having or providing a platform to communicate.

  • digital nomad: someone who performs their occupation entirely over the Internet while traveling; especially such a person who has no permanent fixed home address.

Of course, the coronavirus and politics have filled our ears with some very interesting words. The pandemic isn’t over, and neither is politics. Don’t be surprised if you see more words coming soon.

  • breakthrough medical: infection occurring in someone who is fully vaccinated against an infectious agent — often used before another noun (as in “breakthrough cases” or “breakthrough infection”).

  • super-spreader: an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease — often used before another noun (as in a “super-spreader event”). The term super-spreader originally referred to a highly contagious person capable of passing on a disease to many others, and now can also refer to a single place or occasion where many others are infected.

  • long COVID: a condition that is marked by the presence of symptoms (such as fatigue, cough, shortness of breath, headache, or brain fog) which persist for an extended period of time (such as weeks or months) following a person’s initial recovery from COVID-19 infection.

  • vaccine passport: a physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination against one or more infectious diseases (such as COVID-19).

You have to love these:

  • whataboutism: the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse also: the response itself. The synonymous term whataboutery is more common in British English.

  • vote-a-rama U.S. government: an unusually large number of debates and votes that happen in one day on a single piece of legislation to which an unlimited number of amendments can be introduced, debated, and voted on.

  • astroturf: falsely made to appear grassroots. This figurative use of astroturf (in capitalized form it is a trademark for artificial turf) is used to describe political efforts, campaigns, or organizations that appear to be funded and run by ordinary people but are in fact backed by powerful groups.

So, writers and readers, how will you work these words into your writing? Have you read these words already? As a former teacher, I raised an eyebrow at a few of these. I am just glad that I am not grading English essays today.

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