Tweet, and 39 other words recognized by Merriam-Webster

Don’t get annoyed by the falling standards in spoken and written English. As no matter how puritanical approach one may adopt, any evolving language will keep on reflecting the society it is being used in.

That’s why dictionaries of any language keep adding new words to their word trove.

Latest news on this front is, the humble "Tweet" has earned a spot in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Used as both a noun and a verb, the word describes Tweet as a post made on the online messaging service Twitter.

Tweet is among more than 100 new terms revealed Thursday for the dictionary publisher's newest edition.

The newly included words reflect everything from high-tech advances to the delicate nuances of family and social relationships. Take for instance, the new word for overly involved parents is the "helicopter parents".

On the other side of the Parent-child spectrum, a new word the "boomerang child", is one who's returned home in adulthood for financial reasons. Now with his parents, this boomerang child’s current daily schedule can be described with a few newly added words, like -- Maybe he's spending his days listening to "Americana" music, steering clear of that lonely "cougar" across the street and hanging out a lot with his best buddy, shaking off jokes that they're in a "bromance" (shortened term for Brotherly Romance).

Other noteworthy inclusions are: "fist bump," which means simple act of solidarity. The publisher, credits two people for this new word, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, whose knuckle-knocking gesture of affection when he accepted the 2008 nomination was described by The Washington Post as "the fist bump heard 'round the world." To shed more insight on the fist bump, the publisher describes the right way of making a fist bump gesture or emotion. The right way, which was seen during the Obama Presidential campaign, is “The act of bumping the front of a closed fist against that of another person”. The gesture or act has been common for years in sports.

[Regarding the surge in popularity of Fist Bump in recent times, some media outlets have also speculated it might have grown as a way to avoid handshakes and germs, or as a hip alternative to the high-five].

How the Marriam Webster decided on the final 40:

The wordsmiths at the Springfield, Massachusetts-based Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary said they picked the new entries after monitoring their use over several years and watching for references in a variety of sources, including mainstream media outlets.

According the the publishers, some terms, like tweet, rocketed into prominence in recent years as celebrities, politicians and news outlets adopted Twitter to reach out to the world. Owing to this increase in usage of Twitter across groups and demographics, even those people who had no interest or possible chance of getting a Twitter account themselves, felt the urgent need to know what 'tweet' means, hence the word Tweet has been added to the dictionary, reports the publisher ( the publisher underlines that, rather than taking into account the number of people tweeting these days, it’s the total buzz about Twitter in the society, which made Merriam include the word).

Notably, London-based Oxford English Dictionary, also recognized the growing buzz about the service when it added "retweet" to its Oxford English Concise version ealier this year, along with other technology-influenced terms like cyberbullying (included around the same time in Merriam as well).

Every word in the list of 40, has been included taking into account the reasons shared above.

Other new words for 2011 in Merriam-Webster include terms heavily influenced by different categories and human activity areas. There are words influenced by new technology, like m-commerce (business transactions conducted by using a mobile device), by sports, like walk-off (ending a baseball game by scoring the home team's winning run in the bottom of the last winning); by human behavior and temptations, like Cougar — which is an often unflattering term for a middle-aged woman on the hunt for a younger man (this particular word might not have made it into the dictionary because of their slang(not polite) roots, but became too widely used to overlook).

The word Americana, got included for it being a music genre known as with roots in early folk and country music. The music genre has been popular in specific circles for years, but gained enough widespread attention recently; and hence got a place in new dictionary entries. Notably, the Grammy Awards have included a separate category for the best Americana album since 2009, acknowledging the best-known musicians of this Genre — including John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm and Steve Earle. --------

No comments