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Editors add 455 new words to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary

NOEL KING, HOST:

Are too many fluffernutters giving you a dad bod?

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

No. What have you heard?

KING: (Laughter).

MARTINEZ: Do your vote-a-rama sessions always descend into whataboutism?

KING: If those questions do not make sense, don't worry. You can look up those words in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. They added 455 new words and definitions this month.

MARTINEZ: Peter Sokolowski is Merriam-Webster's editor-at-large.

PETER SOKOLOWSKI: The sort of fun part of the job is noticing new vocabulary and then watching it grow. We don't want to add a term that might fall away from usage. We need a lot of evidence.

MARTINEZ: Some words, though, made an immediate impact, like those we've come to know during the pandemic.

SOKOLOWSKI: In this case, we have new senses of existing terms like breakthrough, as in breakthrough infection.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: ...Risk of getting a breakthrough infection that...

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: ...Could get a breakthrough infection.

ANTHONY FAUCI: ...Had a breakthrough infection.

SOKOLOWSKI: And superspreader.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: That turned into a superspreader event.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: ...Of a superspreader event that occurred...

SOKOLOWSKI: Which we had defined referring to an individual who spread disease among a population. But now it refers, of course, to events or locations that are responsible for the spread of the disease.

KING: Some of the words have been around for decades, like fluffernutter. Come on.

SOKOLOWSKI: It refers to a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) First, you spread, spread, spread your bread with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff and have a fluffernutter.

SOKOLOWSKI: This is a term that is somewhat regional, and maybe that's why it's new to many people. It's not new to me because I grew up in New England.

MARTINEZ: And that's where the dad bod comes in.

KING: (Laughter).

MARTINEZ: Now, more food enters the Merriam-Webster lexicon, this time borrowed from Spanish. And I can't believe it's taken this long to include the creamy drink horchata and the crispy pork snack chicharron.

SOKOLOWSKI: English has a voracious appetite for words from other languages. And the language has this elastic capacity to grow.

KING: Just a few more as evidence of that growth - deplatform, Oobleck, faux-hawk, bit rot. If you don't know what they mean, now you can look them up.

(SOUNDBITE OF J. MANIFESTO'S "MONOLOGUE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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