Language is a living, breathing, changing thing. It is a dynamic and evolving phenomenon that reflects the culture, values and beliefs of the people who use it. It changes over time and across different contexts, as new words are created, old words are discarded, and meanings are shifted. It also adapts to the needs and interests of its speakers, as it expresses their identity, emotions and creativity.
Every year we get a reminder of how true this is as dictionaries like Merriam-Webster and Oxford add new words to their thousands of pages. These usually give us a hint as to the crucial changes that have occurred that year in our world in the fields of social interactions, science and technology.
Here are a few that the Merriam-Webster has added to the dictionary this year:
zhuzh noun : a small improvement, adjustment, or addition that completes the overall look, taste, etc. of something; verb : to improve in flavor or appearance by way of a small improvement, adjustment, or addition — often used with up
GOATED adjective, slang : considered to be the greatest of all time
bussin’ adjective, African American English slang : extremely good : excellent; especially : delicious, tasty
generative AI noun : artificial intelligence that is capable of generating new content (such as images or text) in response to a submitted prompt (such as a query) by learning from a large reference database of examples
smishing noun : the practice of sending text messages to someone in order to trick the person into revealing personal or confidential information which can then be used for criminal purposes
hallucination noun … 3 : a plausible but false or misleading response generated by an artificial intelligence algorithm
rewild verb 1 : to return to a more natural or wild state : to make or become natural or wild again; specifically : to increase biodiversity and restore the natural processes of an ecosystem typically by reducing or ceasing human activity and reintroducing plant and animal species 2 : to return (an animal) to the wild
nerf verb 1 informal : to reduce the effectiveness of (something, such as a character, attribute, or weapon) in a video game; broadly : to make (something) less useful or effective 2 informal : to lightly bump (another car) in an automobile race
doomscroll verb : to spend excessive time online scrolling (see scroll entry 2) through news or other content that makes one feel sad, anxious, angry, etc.
edgelord noun, slang : someone who makes wildly dark and exaggerated statements (as on an internet forum) with the intent of shocking others
nurdle noun : a plastic pellet (see pellet entry 1 sense 1a) that is usually less than 0.2 inch (0.5 centimeter) in diameter or length, that is the raw material from which plastic products are manufactured, and that is a common pollutant of global waters and beaches — not used technically
bracketology noun : the practice or study of predicting the outcome of elimination tournaments or competitions especially in NCAA college basketball
meme stock noun : a stock (see stock entry 1 sense 2a) that experiences a temporary sudden surge in popularity and price due to a coordinated effort (such as a viral social media campaign) by small investors
last mile noun : the final stage of the distance that must be covered by a service (as a telecommunications network or delivery service) in order to reach a consumer
girlboss noun : an ambitious and successful woman (especially a businesswoman or entrepreneur)