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Merriam-Webster adds 455 words linked to politics, coronavirus, to dictionary

Merriam-Webster adds 455 words linked to politics, coronavirus, to dictionary

The 200 year-old Merriam-Webster dictionary has decided to update itself for the month of October and the new words added reflect the changes to the world's political, science and health sectors, especially with regards to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Just as the language never stops evolving, the dictionary never stops expanding,'' the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company said on its website. "New terms and new uses for existing terms are the constant in a living language."

The quick and informal nature of messaging, texting, and tweeting has contributed to a vocabulary newly rich in efficient and abbreviated expression, the official statement said. New texting-based words include 'TBH' (to be honest), 'amirite' (am I right?), 'deplatform', 'digital nomad' and even updations to existing words like "because" which has gained a preposition form ('this works because science').

The Covid-19 pandemic contributed to new words and phrases such as 'long Covid', 'vaccine passport's and 'super-spreaders' becoming more commonplace. "As we all know, the pandemic story isn't over, and neither is the need for more vocabulary to describe the policy and research developments connected to COVID-19," Merriam-Webster wrote.

Political divisiveness was also visible with the additions of 'whataboutism' and 'vote-o-rama' to the dictionary which reflect sentiments around partisan politics. Terms of "blame and deception" were notable in the new batch of words the company said. Words for food from other countries, terms from pop culture and a few new medicine-related terms were also added. Some truly odd additions such as 'dad bod' and 'fluffernutter' have also amused readers.

"The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms–in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means, and determining typical usage," the dictionary's website says. "Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use."

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