Each year, more words join the official lexicon, sometimes even terms we wish we hadn’t heard. Dictionary.com announced that in March it added 300 new words. Some people look to the Oxford English Dictionary or the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but anyone clever enough to have snapped up dictionary.com as a domain name should carry enough weight to also be taken seriously.
One of greatest advantages of new words becoming ‘official’ with dictionary listings is now people who aren’t sure can learn what the new terms mean without asking someone. We tried to find the entire list of 300 to scan for tech terms, but it doesn’t work that way. Dictionary.com only teases a few new words at a time.
So now we know for sure the meanings of “bitchface” (A facial expression that does not consciously express a particular emotion but that others perceive as scowling, or threatening), “dabbing” (The act of performing a dance move that involves posing with one’s nose in the crook of a bent elbow at chest level while extending the other arm to the side at or above shoulder level, often as a celebratory posture in sports), and “slay” (To strongly impress or overwhelm someone).
One of our favorite newbies is “mic drop,” which involves intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a speech or performance, displaying a bold confidence that it has been very impressive. And we’d already figured out what it means to “throw shade,” which means to “insult, criticize, or disrespect a person or thing in an indirect, artful manner.”
We confess we had no clue, however, about “uncanny valley.” That term is a psychological concept that describes the feelings of unease or revulsion that people tend to have toward artificial representations of human beings, such as robots or computer animations, that closely imitate many but not all the features and behaviors of actual human beings. Meanwhile, “struggle bus” refers to a situation, task, etc., that seems difficult or frustrating. That seems a bit forced but maybe you had to be there.
Some of the other newly added words to Dictionary.com relate to current political and news events, such as “Black Lives Matter,” “alt-right,” and “burkini.” “Cold brew” and “superfood” represent what we eat and drink, while the entry of “420” and “Kush” into the official parlance tables reflected the broader use of marijuana terms. We may not have needed “man bun” or “dad bod,” but we aren’t here to judge.
One word seems a bit late to the party as it’s been used worldwide for nearly 40 years. But better late than never, and on the unlikely chance that you meet someone who asks, “What’s a lightsaber?” you can now say, “Look it up.”