Merriam-Webster Adds 150 New Words to Its Dictionary - 'Selfie,' 'Hashtag,' and Modern Culture Words Added

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By Daniel Joseph Cruz | May 21, 2014 1:55 PM EST

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary added more than 150 new words to its collegiate dictionary, with most of the new terms derived from digital technology and social media use. Words like "selfie," "hashtag," "steampunk," " gamification," and "spoiler alert" officially made it to the dictionary, according to the company's press release.


The new additions to the America's best-selling dictionary reveal the influence of modern technology on people's daily communication and activities, especially in social networking. "So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods," explains Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster," in a report from Digital Journal.

Here are some of Merriam-Webster's new words including their short definitions.

"Selfie" refers to a photo image of a person taken by oneself using a digital camera, now commonly used for posting on social networking sites. "Hashtag" is a word or phrase preceded by the symbol "#" that categorises a tweet or text for easier topic search on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Other non-technology related words also made it to the list. "Pho" is a soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles, and "turducken" is a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey.

In terms of technology, "crowdfunding," "gamification," and "big data" define how technology is used to understand human behavior. "Steampunk" refers to science fiction dealing with 19-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology.

Some human descriptive terms include "catfish," a technology-based term that refers to a person who sets up a false social networking profile to deceive others.

"Freegan" refers to an activist who scavenges for free food (as in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants) as a means of reducing consumption of resources. "Fangirl" is a girl or woman who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something. Others also use it as a verb connoting the same action. "Yooper" is a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is used as a nickname.

'Merriam-Webster relies on a network of observers who track down word usage in everything from newspapers to soup can labels. Three or four senior editors make the final cut," reported ABC news.

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