Merriam-Webster's dictionary adds dozens of choice words
August 15, 2012 8:00 AM
Richard Drew/Associated Press
Welcoming an "aha moment." The term is one of about 100 new additions to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
By Kaitlynn Riely Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you are a flexitarian who downs energy drinks while sexting and dropping f-bombs as you sit in your man cave and contemplate your underwater mortgage, well, now you have a lot less explaining to do.
You can thank Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
The 114-year-old cataloger of words annually updates its dictionary to include recent additions to the English language, and the latest edition is about 100 words thicker.
The list of newly added words includes flexitarian (one whose normally meatless diet sometimes includes meat or fish), energy drink (a beverage with ingredients such as caffeine or ginseng), sexting (sending explicit messages or photos by cell phone), f-bomb (a euphemism that this family newspaper won't explain further), man cave (a space designed to reflect a man's interests) and underwater (referring to owing more on a mortgage than a property is worth).
The words may be new to the dictionary, but in some cases they've been around for a while, and just like technology has early adopters, words in the English language have early users.
Take Adam Johnston.
The 31-year-old, who happens to have a man cave in his Baden home, is the co-owner of James Street Gastropub & Speakeasy on the North Side, which opened in December of last year. He chose the term gastropub because it encompassed what he wanted the place to become.
"It's very to the point. It's food and pub," Mr. Johnston said, yet he still fields a frequent question from his customers: What is a gastropub?
According to the new Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is "a pub, bar or tavern that also offers meals of high quality."
And, Mr. Johnston said, they also offer craft beer (a specialty beer produced in limited quantities).
Travis Tuttle, who lives in Bridgeville and is one of the three founders of Butler Brew Works, knows craft beer. (And he likes gastropubs.)
It doesn't come as much of a surprise to him that craft beer is only just now making its dictionary debut, since he points out, as does the newest version of the dictionary, that the term microbrew has been used as a synonym for craft beer.
But from his perspective, the past five or six years have been big ones for craft beer.
"The industry is just booming like it's never been before," he said.
When it comes to "geocaching," Jeffrey Donahue, the superintendent of recreation for Washington County Parks and Recreation, has never given much thought to whether the word is in the dictionary.
The game, which involves searching for a cache of items using a GPS device, has been a popular activity in the county's parks for at least five years. It makes sense to add the term to the dictionary, he said.
"Times change, technology," he said. "It seems appropriate."
Merriam-Webster may have made David Young's job -- or rather, explaining his job -- a little easier. Mr. Young, 41, of Ligonier, is a life coach.
Half the people Mr. Young introduces himself to have never heard of the concept, he said, but now the term is in the latest version of the dictionary, defined as "an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals or deal with problems."
Mr. Young started working as a life coach on a part-time basis about a year and a half ago, coaching clients ranging from adults trying to transition careers to high school students considering college choices. In a move not related to the dictionary addition, Mr. Young left his software company job Tuesday and is now a full-time life coach.
"I think that people are starting to get in tune with the idea that, much like a sports coach, you can't get the performance you want out of your life unless you have someone beside you to coach you," he said.
In other words, he helps people arrive at their aha moments.
What's an aha moment?
If you don't know, it's in the latest edition of the dictionary.