More than 500 new words have been added to www.dictionary.com this week.
Phrases from different cultures, countries and generations, words that originated online, and terms that were once the province of certain industries like tech, wellness and finance, have been added to the mainstream lexicon, proving how far and fast language moves these days.
Familiar terms like biohacking and intermittent fasting have been included, as have lesser known words such as bloatware and unsee, along with an array of downright obscure references: Orange shower, anyone?
And for anyone who has ever sent a text they regret, unsend has also been legitimised.
Here are some of the most fun and interesting words added to the dictionary.
Nepo baby enters the mainstream
Among the words making the biggest headlines for their debut in the dictionary, nepo baby sits at the top.
The term was coined by X user Meriem Derradji in early 2022. After watching TV show Euphoria, Derradji tweeted her astonishment that one of its stars, Maude Apatow, was the daughter of writer-director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann, dubbing her a “nepo baby”.
The term was quickly picked up by Gen Z as they discovered that some of their favourite stars were the offspring of other celebrities.
The phrase was then cemented in pop culture when New York magazine ran a cover story featuring Dakota Johnson, Jack Quaid, Lily-Rose Depp, Zoe Kravitz and more, under the headline: “She has her mother’s eyes. And her agent.”
While Eve Hewson, actress and daughter of U2 frontman Bono claimed the term was driven by “jealousy”, Girls actress Allison Williams, daughter of US newsreader Brian Williams, owned her privilege, telling Vulture: “To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn’t the same – it’s ludicrous.”
New words in tech, social media and money
The fast pace of today’s technology has seen many words in the tech sphere enter the everyday lexicon. Digital nomad makes its debut in reference to the post-pandemic rise in people working from anywhere around the world, as does algo, short for algorithm and bloatware, the term used to describe unwanted software that is preinstalled on new devices.
Pessimise was introduced as the opposite of optimise, referring to technology that is created to become less efficient over time, forcing users to buy new ones.
Chatbot and GPT (generative pre-trained) were also included in the wake of the headline-making technology ChatGPT, along with the concerning verb hallucinate that describes when a machine-learning programme, such as AI, “produces false information contrary to the intent of the user and presents it as if true and factual.”
Big pharma collectivises the power and influence held by the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, albeit with negative connotations, while information pollution gives a name to the dilution or suppression of facts by way of irrelevance, bias and sensationalism.
New pop culture slang
Two sections, slang and pop culture, had the largest increase of words. Unsee and unsend entered the mainstrea – having both often been used in social media and text messaging parlance for years to refer to things you wish you hadn't seen or sent.
Work to rule refers to the Gen Z-driven approach to employment of never going above or beyond what the job description entails, while jawn moves beyond the borders of Philadelphia - where it has long referred to something you don't know the name of - to the rest of the world. Example: "Hey, can you hand me that jawn over there.”
Niche additions include orange shower, the act of unpeeling an orange in the shower. The term first appeared in a thread on social media platform Reddit in 2016, with the idea being that the steam from the shower and the unpeeled orange combined to create a soothing citrus shower experience.
An even more esoteric choice is agelast, referring to someone who never laughs, while sonder is the word for the realisation that you are merely a minor or secondary character in the lives of others.
Health, happiness and the environment
Biohacking, in which people attempt to find (and then post on social media) shortcuts to optimum health was introduced among the new words, along with intermittent fasting, which has become a popular method for weightloss.
Decision fatigue makes its debut as a modern lament usually associated with the overabundance of choice on streamers making it difficult to decide what to watch.
Environmental words include greenwashing, “the practice of promoting or affiliating a brand, campaign, mission, etc, with environmentalism as a ploy to divert attention from policies and activities that are in fact anti-environmentalist.”
Reality TV star and beauty mogul Kylie Jenner will be familiar with the inclusion of climate criminal as she was branded one for the number of private jet trips she takes, with the phrase referring to people “whose actions or activities are considered particularly destructive to the environment.”