25 of the New Words Merriam-Webster Is Adding to the Dictionary in 2018

iStock
iStock

If you don't spend most of your time on the internet, it can be hard to keep up with the evolving lingo of the digital age. Luckily, the editors at Merriam-Webster have done the hard work of keeping track of the most important new terms to know: The American institution has added over 840 new words to its dictionary, many of which didn't exist a couple of decades ago.

Readers fluent in internet-speak will be familiar with many of the entries on the list, and there are also plenty of new words that are specific to the tech world. Not every word that's new to the dictionary is necessarily new to language; Merriam-Webster now includes some culinary terms that have been around for a while, and the new list also features abbreviations of common words. Check out a sample of the new entries below.

1. BOUGIE (ADJ.)

Short for bourgeois, this term means "Marked by a concern for wealth, possessions, and respectability."

2. TL;DR (ABBREV.)

"Too long; didn't read—used to say that something would require too much time to read."

3. BINGEABLE (ADJ.)

"Having multiple episodes or parts that can be watched in rapid succession."

4. PREDICTIVE (ADJ.)

As in predictive text: "Of, relating to, or usable or valuable for prediction."

5. HAPTICS (N.)

"The use of electronically or mechanically generated movement that a user experiences through the sense of touch as part of an interface (such as on a gaming console or smartphone)."

6. FORCE QUIT (V.)

"To force (an unresponsive computer program) to shut down (as by using a series of preset keystrokes)."

7. AIRPLANE MODE (N.)

"An operating mode for an electronic device (such as a mobile phone) in which the device does not connect to wireless networks and cannot send or receive communications (such as calls or text messages) or access the Internet but remains usable for other functions."

8. INSTAGRAM (V.)

"To post (a picture) to the Instagram photo-sharing service."

9. BIOHACKING (N.)

"Biological experimentation (as by gene editing or the use of drugs or implants) done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms especially by individuals and groups outside of a traditional medical or scientific research environment."

10. FINTECH (N.)

"Products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries."

11. MARG (N.)

A margarita. According to Merriam-Webster, the first known usage occurred in 1990.

12. FAVE (N.)

Favorite. This word is older than it looks: It dates back to 1938. ("Lester Harding, heavy fave here, clicks with pop songs," was the first usage, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

13. ADORBS (ADJ.)

"Extremely charming or appealing : adorable."

14. RANDO (N.)

According to Merriam-Webster, this "often disparaging" slang means "A random person: a person who is not known or recognizable or whose appearance (as in a conversation or narrative) seems unprompted or unwelcome."

15. GUAC (N.)

Guacamole.

16. IFTAR (N.)

"A meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break the daily fast during Ramadan."

17. GOCHUJANG (N.)

A spicy paste used in Korean cuisine that is made from red chili peppers, glutinous rice, and fermented soybeans.

18. MISE EN PLACE (N.)

"A culinary process in which ingredients are prepared and organized (as in a restaurant kitchen) before cooking."

19. HOPHEAD (N.)

Originally a slang word for a drug addict dating back to 1883, this word these days means "A beer enthusiast."

20. ZOODLE (N.)

"A long, thin strip of zucchini that resembles a string or narrow ribbon of pasta."

21. HANGRY (ADJ.)

"Irritable or angry because of hunger." People have been hangry (or at least using the word) since 1956.

22. MOCKTAIL (N.)

"A usually iced drink made with any of various ingredients (such as juice, herbs, and soda water) but without alcohol: a nonalcoholic cocktail."

23. LATINX (ADJ.)

"Of, relating to, or marked by Latin American heritage—used as a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina."

24. GENERATION Z (N.)

The generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

25. TENT CITY (N.)

"A collection of many tents set up in an area to provide usually temporary shelter (as for displaced or homeless people)."

What's the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?

Julia_Sudnitskaya/iStock via Getty Images
Julia_Sudnitskaya/iStock via Getty Images

This Thanksgiving, families across the country will enjoy a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, and sweet potatoes ... or are they yams? Discussions on the proper name for the orange starchy stuff on your table can get more heated than arguments about topping them with marshmallows. But there's an easy way to tell the difference between sweet potatoes and yams: If you picked up the tuber from a typical American grocery store, it's probably a sweet potato.

So what's a sweet potato?

Sweet potato and yam aren't just different names for the same thing: The two produce items belong to their own separate botanical categories. Sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family. Regular potatoes like russets, meanwhile, are considered part of the nightshade family, which means that sweet potatoes aren't actually potatoes at all.

Almost all of the foods most Americans think of as yams are really sweet potatoes. The root vegetable typically has brown or reddish skin with a starchy inside that's orange (though it can also be white or purple). It's sold in most supermarkets in the country and used to make sweet potato fries, sweet potato pie, and the sweet potato casserole you have at Thanksgiving.

Then what's a yam?

Yams.
Yams.
bonchan/iStock via Getty Images

Yams are a different beast altogether. They are more closely related to lilies and grasses and mostly grow in tropical environments. The skin is more rough and bark-like than what you'd see on a sweet potato, and the inside is usually white or yellowish—not orange.

They're a common ingredient in parts of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Because the inside of a yam is less moist than the inside of a sweet potato, they require more fat to make them soft and creamy. They're also less sweet than their orange-hued counterparts. In many regions in the U.S., yams aren't sold outside of international grocery stores.

Where did the mix-up come from?

Also sweet potatoes.
Also sweet potatoes.
Kateryna Bibro/iStock via Getty Images

So if yams and sweet potatoes are two totally different vegetables that don't look or taste that similar, why are their names used interchangeably in the U.S.? You can blame the food industry. For years, "firm" sweet potatoes, which have brown skin and whitish flesh, were the only sweet potatoes grown in the U.S. In the early 20th century, "soft" sweet potatoes, which have reddish skin and deep-orange flesh, entered the scene. Farmers needed a way to distinguish the two varieties, so soft sweet potatoes became yams.

Nearly a century later, the misnomer shows no signs of disappearing. Many American supermarkets still call their orange-fleshed sweet potatoes yams and their white-fleshed ones sweet potatoes, even though both items are sweet potatoes. But this isn't a strict rule, and stores often swap the names and make things even more confusing for shoppers. So the next time you're shopping for a recipe that calls for sweet potatoes, learn to identify them by sight rather than the name on the label.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Listen to a Gloriously Guttural Rendition of Frozen’s “Let It Go” Performed in Klingon

Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios

If there’s one thing we learned from Disney’s 2013 animated film Frozen, it’s that we just can’t let go of “Let It Go.”

The epically catchy tune, belted out by Idina Menzel in true Broadway-powerhouse form, inspired an entire generation of ice-queen wannabes and probably echoed through your head for at least a few years (if it ever stopped).

It also generated a slew of creative covers, parodies, and remixes. With the upcoming release of Frozen 2 later this month, it’s no surprise that some of these rousing renditions are once again gaining traction across the internet.

Nerdist reports that the Klingon-language version of “Let It Go” was recently mentioned on Reddit’s Star Trek thread, much to the delight of musically inclined Trekkies and people who just love a good fandom crossover event.

Though some commenters quickly pointed out that, among other things, Klingons do not like the cold or letting things go, the overall opinion was that the song was not only well-executed, but also eerily enjoyable.

The track, whose Klingon title is “yIbuSQo,” was released five years ago by a SoundCloud user named Jen Usellis, or “Klingon Pop Warrior.” The somewhat dulcet tones of an acoustic guitar are offset by the guttural sounds that characterize the Klingon language, giving this version a strangely aggressive edge. Elsa’s original number was never really a lullaby, though.

If the moniker “Klingon Pop Warrior” made you think that maybe “ylbuSQo” isn’t the only song Usellis has sung in Klingon, you would be correct—also available to stream on her SoundCloud channel are Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield,” Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and Celine Dion’s Academy- and Grammy-winning ballad “My Heart Will Go On” from 1997’s Titanic.

Interested in mastering a few of your own favorite songs in Klingon? Learn the language for free from Duolingo.

[h/t Nerdist]

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