'Hashtag,' 'selfie' are officially words in Merriam-Webster - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

'Hashtag,' 'selfie' are officially words, according to Merriam-Webster

Word lovers don’t cringe – ‘selfie,’ ‘catfish’ and ‘hashtag’ are being added to the dictionary. (Source: MGN Online) Word lovers don’t cringe – ‘selfie,’ ‘catfish’ and ‘hashtag’ are being added to the dictionary. (Source: MGN Online)

(RNN) – People who cry for the days of clean and concise English may cringe at the newest additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The 150 new entries will be featured in digital and print editions of Merrian-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 2014 edition at Merriam-Webster.com, according to a press release.

The list includes a slew of pop culture references birthed from an age of increased social media and technology usage.

Words like social networking, tweep, selfie, catfish, hashtag, unfriend, crowdfunding, big data, fangirl and gamification speak to social media's impact on the spoken word,  MW's Editor-At-Large Peter Sokolowski said.

"So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods," Sokolowski said.

Although many southerners will say that catfish has been a part of their vocabularies and diets for years, Merriam-Webster is now adding a secondary entry. "Catfish" can now also be defined as "a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes."

Catfish has been made popular in recent years thanks to a documentary and subsequent MTV reality TV show of the same name, starring Nev Schulman. It was also a pop culture buzzword during the Manti Te'o scandal in 2013.

"Never in a thousand years could we have imagined what a phenomenon Catfish would become," Schulman said in a statement. "Seeing this new definition in Merriam-Webster's dictionary is not only an honor for us, it is a reflection of how our experience in the film has now become a universal one, shared by people all over the world."

Also making the list are a number of culinary terms: pho, turducken and poutine. Another new word to many is freegan, defined as "an activist who scavenges for free food [as in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants] as a means of reducing consumption of resources."

An American regional description is also a part of the list - Yooper - which describes a person who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The newest editions might make slang terms a bit more normal, but fuels a 2013 report that many adult vocabularies are shrinking, due in large part to information-seeking on tablets and smartphones.

Merriam-Webster's word of the year in 2013 was "science."

MW wants word-lovers of all types to take on the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #MW2014NewWords.

Do you like to tweet? Tweet me @TanitaG_RNN.

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • What do you think about the latest editions to Merriam-Webster?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    I like the additions - they reflect language in 2014.
    30%
    39 votes
    I do not like these additions - it shows language is shrinking thanks to social media.
    70%
    91 votes
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