WTF are the new entries in Merriam-Webster's unabridged dictionary?


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Good luck next year, hypochristian.


Does making it into the dictionary mean that people will finally stop writing “emojis?”


What irks me is that I coined “WTF?” around 1980 and I should have copyrighted it because I’d be living in Hollywood and whenever I’d walk into a party everyone would say “WTF, man!”


meanwhile, Oxford is removing words from its dictionary


English is the borg of languages.


The weirdest thing to include to me is honestly “colony collapse disorder”. It’s a dictionary, not an encyclopedia, and I assume that they’ve had definitions for “colony”, “collapse” and “disorder” for a long time. Why in the world would you include an entry for something like that in a dictionary?

WTF and NSFW arguably functions as words in modern English (especially on the Internet), so those make perfect sense, though.


Isn’t the ‘Junior’ dictionary always the compromise version? I can’t find a statement from Oxford on exactly how many definitions it contains; but they list it as 288 pages, compared to the Children’s dictionary which is 400 pages and ‘over 30,000’ definitions. No idea if the print density is similar; but a best guess suggests that there won’t be enough to save most of the OED from the cutting room floor.


Those sorts of entries certainly aren’t the most critical, unlike the just-plain-weird-and-not-even-derived-from-one-of-the-usual-sources words that you pretty much can’t figure out without a dictionary or rather a lot of context; but it isn’t that weird to include them. Lots of diseases and phenomena are given blandly ‘self-explanatory’ names; but unless they are still really new, there is usually more to them than the name alone will provide: ‘Colony collapse disorder’. Colony of what? Population collapse, physically falling apart? Is this big news or esoteric trivia?

I’d assume that any reasonably competent dictionary would define ‘HIV’ and ‘Human immunodeficiency virus’ is arguably even clearer than ‘colony collapse disorder’. The main limiting factor on the number of such definitions would likely be that only a medical dictionary could really justify occupying so much space, not that the ‘just give it a banal and vaguely descriptive name’ trend is actually self-documenting.


The Oxford Junior Dictionary has 10,000 words, and is aimed at seven year olds. Certainly a level of sophistication above Basic or Simple English, but they do have a word budget, It’s explained rather well in this New Yorker article





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