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Welcome to the English Language, “Selfie,” “Hashtag,” “Catfish” and More

Today, the newest members of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary family were revealed and many of them are straight out of the digital age. In the collegiate dictionary’s announcement, a few of the 150 new words from this year were listed and more than half involve our modern obsession with technology, social media, and the Internet.

    • big data (n., 1980): an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools
    • catfish (n., new sense): a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes
    • crowdfunding (n., 2006): the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people esp. from the online community
    • gamification (n., 2010): the process of adding game or gamelike elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation
    • hashtag (n., 2008): a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that clarifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)
    • selfie (n., 2002): an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera esp. for posting on social networks.
    • social networking (n., 1998): the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships esp. online
    • tweep (n., 2008): a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets
  • Time Magazine also highlighted some of the new Merriam-Webster Dictionary words, including additional tech-focused ones like:

    • digital divide (n., 1996): the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not
    • e-waste (n., 2004): waste consisting of discarded electronic products (as computers, televisions, and cell phones)
    • hot spot (n., new sense): a place where a wireless Internet connection is available
    • paywall (n., 2004): a system that prevents Internet users from accessing certain Web content without a paid subscription
    • unfriend (v., 2003): to remove (someone) from a list of designated friends on a person’s social networking Web site
  • Of course many of the words added to the English language this year have nothing to do with the digital age (e.g. freegan, fracking, and turducken). But the overwhelming number of words centered around the Internet and social media is more evidence that as technology continues to infiltrate our lives, the online social world we live in increasingly becomes the real world.

    Featured image by John Keogh

       
     
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