Dictionary.com Announces New Words Related to Homelessness, Accessibility, Disability, Culture, the Ongoing Pandemic, Climate and the Environment, and Social Sciences

Jennifer E. Engen

-The dictionary’s latest additions illustrate that, as the English language expands, documenting new and newly prominent words across the cultural spectrum is essential to helping people better understand a rapidly changing world

-Highlights include: forest bathing, wabi-sabi, chair yoga, hamburger menu, cottagecore, UAP, Generation A, throuple, memeify, ranked-choice voting, parklet, and metaverse

OAKLAND, Calif., March 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Dictionary.com, the leading online and mobile English-language educational resource, today announced hundreds of newly added terms. Notably, their team of lexicographers updated over 2,400 entries across the dictionary, including 235 new entries, 72 new definitions in existing entries, and 1,024 revised definitions. Key themes addressed in its update reflect important topics in society and culture today, including: homelessness, accessibility, disability, the ongoing pandemic, climate and the environment, and the social sciences. These terms and definitions reflect Dictionary.com’s commitment to documenting and describing an ever-evolving English language.

“Because our world is constantly changing, our language is constantly changing,” said John Kelly, Senior Director of Editorial. “From Generation A to zeitgeisty, our latest update to the dictionary shows just how wide, varied, and complex these changes can be. Our work at Dictionary.com isn’t just to capture these changes in language—it’s to help our users make sense of them and why they matter for their lives.”

Below are the highlights from the full article and list of terms, which can be accessed here: https://www.dictionary.com/e/new-dictionary-words-spring-2022/.

Dictionary.com’s newly added terms such as unsheltered, unhoused, and houseless are increasingly used in reference to people who lack stable housing. These additions follow the increase of usage among members of that community and by advocates who view those expressions as better able to convey the range of experiences that the single term homeless does not.

The increase in the availability of assistive technologies has brought with it an influx of terminology. Some of the newly added terms related to accessibility tech include alt text, auto caption, and live caption. While some of these terms or the technologies they refer to have familiarity, specific features of each type can differ and overlap—and capturing these distinctions and similarities is one of the challenges of defining these words.

Disabled is a comprehensive umbrella term to describe people or communities of people who live with functional limitations in carrying out major life activities, such as walking, lifting, seeing, or learning. Among the many changes made to terms used in the context of disability was the addition of an important usage note for disability itself.

The expansiveness of both mainstream culture and subcultures has led to diverse entries covering a span of topics. These include words related to leisure and wellness like forest bathing and chair yoga to internet and online life like metaverse and memeify. Other examples like Generation A, UAP, throuple, and verklempt show how words are used in a variety of contexts.

The Ongoing Pandemic
After more than two years, the long-lasting effects of COVID continue to be reflected in language. Some new terms emerged during the pandemic. In other cases, existing terms became more established in mainstream use due to the influence of COVID on so many aspects of our lives. Many of the terms are examples of the evolving language of vaccination and masking, including: vax ,vaxxer, antivax, antivaxxer, anti-mask, and anti-masker.

In some cases, the addition of terms as a result of COVID was somewhat indirect. For example, Dictionary.com added nontaster and hypogeusia, which are both used in the context of COVID’s effects on smell and taste. These additions precipitated the addition of their opposites, supertaster and hypergeusia, which are not associated with COVID, but nevertheless made sense to add in tandem.

Climate and Environment
As climate changes, the overlapping contexts of science, personal behavior, politics, policy, activism, and tech innovations are sources of emerging terminology. Chief among the terms that have been added in this area is one that is now commonly used to capture the urgency of the issue of climate emergency. Dictionary.com’s additions also reflect a focus on the extreme weather events driven by climate change—and the greater awareness and mainstream use of some of the technical terms used in studying and discussing them. Some of these include megadrought and mesovortex.

Additionally, the push to reduce the use of fossil fuels is often discussed in relation to the transportation industry, where many terms have emerged regarding evolving technologies: EV (electric vehicle), HEV (hybrid electric vehicle), PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), BEV (battery electric vehicle), charging station, e-bike, and micromobility.

Social Sciences 
Everyday discussion of a wide range of issues features vocabulary initially used and developed by professionals and academics in fields like sociology, psychology, and race and gender studies. Many of these terms are not new but have been more recently adopted into (or are trending towards) mainstream use. Here are some of the terms being added to the dictionary for the first time or whose definitions they’ve updated to reflect modern senses: trigger, problematic, code-switching, translanguaging, and decolonize.

About Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com
Words define every aspect of our lives, from our ideas to our identities. We aspire to empower every person, of every background, to express themselves, make connections, and open the door to opportunity through the power and joy of language. 

We are the premier destination to learn, discover, and have fun with the limitless world of words and meanings. We help you make sense of the ever-evolving English language so you can put your ideas into words—and your words into action.

Jacquelyn Grant
The TASC Group
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE Dictionary.com


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