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From ‘Adorkable’ to ‘Yeet’: 30 Words Merriam-Webster Just Added to the Dictionary

Ellen Gutoskey
Try to fit all six of these terms in a single sentence.
Try to fit all six of these terms in a single sentence. / Enis Aksoy/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images
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Like all good descriptivist dictionaries, Merriam-Webster seeks to catalog how language is being used rather than dictate how it should be used. And that means that if enough people use a certain term in the same way for long enough, it will eventually get an entry of its own. EGOT, stan, and bottle episode all earned that honor back in 2019. Last year, dad bod, chicharron, and oobleck joined the ranks.

The latest batch of additions is similarly entertaining, comprising 370 new words and definitions from all spheres of life. As was the case in 2021, a number of pandemic-related phrases were included in this year’s update—from booster dose to emergency use authorization

The addition of altcoin is a nod to the rising influence of cryptocurrency; and anybody who has noticed the increasingly paltry contents of cereal boxes, Doritos bags, and more will no doubt agree that shrinkflation deserves its newly acquired spot in the dictionary. Gastronomic trends can be tracked through terms like omakase, banh mi, and—just in time for autumn—pumpkin spice

It’s always especially fun to see which slang terms made the cut. This year, Merriam-Webster is formally acknowledging that cringe can be an adjective, and that there’s a difference between calling someone’s outfit a look and a lewk.

Read on for a highlight reel of the new entries—and also so you can finally learn what yeet means.

1. Adorkable

“Socially awkward or quirky in a way that is endearing.”

2. Altcoin

“Any of various cryptocurrencies that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin.”

3. Baller

“Excellent, exciting, or extraordinary, especially in a way that is suggestive of a lavish lifestyle.”

4. Banh Mi

“A usually spicy sandwich in Vietnamese cuisine consisting of a split baguette filled typically with meat (such as pork or chicken) and pickled vegetables (such as carrot and daikon) and garnished with cilantro and often cucumbers.”

5. Cringe

“So embarrassing, awkward, etc. as to cause one to cringe: cringeworthy.”

6. Dawn Chorus

“The singing of wild birds that closely precedes and follows sunrise especially in spring and summer.”

7. FWIW

Abbreviation for “for what it’s worth.”

8. Galentine's Day

“A holiday observed on February 13th as a time to celebrate friendships especially among women.”

9. Greenwashing

“The act or practice of making a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is.”

10. ICYMI

Abbreviation for “in case you missed it.”

11. Janky

“Of very poor quality: junky; also: not functioning properly or adequately: faulty.”

12. LARP

“A live-action role-playing game in which a group of people enacts a fictional scenario (such as a fantasy adventure) in real time typically under the guidance of a facilitator or organizer.”

13. Lewk

“A fashion look ... that is distinctive to the wearer and that is noticeable and memorable to others.”

14. MacGyver

“To make, form, or repair (something) with what is conveniently on hand.”

15. Magnet Fishing

“The sport or hobby of using a strong magnet attached to the end of a rope to find metal objects in bodies of water.”

16. Meatspace

“The physical world and environment especially as contrasted with the virtual world of cyberspace.”

17. Metaverse

In computing, “a persistent virtual ... environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities,” as well as “any of the individual virtual environments that make up a metaverse.” In cosmology, “the hypothetical combination of all co-existing or sequentially existing universes.”

18. Oat Milk

“A liquid made from ground oats and water that is usually fortified (as with calcium and vitamins) and used as a milk substitute.”

19. Omakase

As a noun, “a series of small servings or courses (as of sushi) offered at a fixed price and whose selection is left to the chef's discretion.” As an adverb or adjective, “according to the chef’s choice.”

20. Pumpkin Spice

“A mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie.”

21. Ras El Hanout

“A mixture of ground spices that is used in northern African cooking and includes coriander, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and other spices.”

22. Shrinkflation

“The practice of reducing a product’s amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price.”

23. Side Hustle

“Work performed for income supplementary to one's primary job.”

24. Space Force

“The military organization of a nation for space warfare.”

25. Sponcon

“Content ... posted usually by an influencer on social media that looks like a typical post but for which the poster has been paid to advertise a product or service.”

26. Subvariant

“One of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant.”

27. Supply Chain

“The chain of processes, businesses, etc. by which a commodity is produced and distributed : the companies, materials, and systems involved in manufacturing and delivering goods.”

28. Sus

Slang for “suspicious” or “suspect.”

29. Virtue Signaling

“The act or practice of conspicuously displaying one's awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action.”

30. Yeet

As an interjection, “used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm.” As a verb, “to throw especially with force and without regard for the thing being thrown.”

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