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“Some of these words will amuse or inspire, others may provoke debate. Our job is to capture the language as it is used.”

Merriam-Webster's editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, in a statement on the publisher adding 370 new words to its dictionary.

Published on

sep 12, 2022

Why It Matters: In its most recent update, American publishing company Merriam-Webster announced it is adding 370 new words to its dictionary. Some of the words added include terms you may have heard repeated in the news lately, such as supply chain, shrinkflation and booster dose. Other words added include side hustle, oat milk, Galentine's Day, level up and yeet.

  • Why? "The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes, which means new words and definitions must continually be added. When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion," Merriam-Webster explains.
  • Merriam-Webster updates its dictionary periodically; the last update was in October of 2021, when the words TBH, air fryer and dad bod were among the new additions.

Big Picture: Although it is estimated there are approx. 1 million words in the English vocabulary, there is no exact total count: "... one reason is certainly because languages are ever expanding; in addition, their boundaries are always flexible" Merriam-Webster explains. Here is one example of a consideration that complicates the counting of the words in the English language: Would "walk," "walks" and "walked" be considered three different words, or one?

We Added 370 New Words to the Dictionary for September 2022 (Merriam-Webster)

Yeet, sus and cringe: Merriam-Webster adds 370 new words and phrases to its dictionary (USA Today)

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