Dictionary.com, the leading online and mobile English-language resource, announced the addition of more than 300 new words and definitions to the dictionary, reflecting the latest use of language as it relates to identity, culture, repression, and technology's influence on modern life, both online and offline.
The newest additions spotlight how language has evolved in tandem with more inclusive and empowered identity and cultural terms that have gained traction over the past few years. Afrofuturism, which has been part of the lexicon since the 1990s and was more recently popularized by the blockbuster Black Panther, was given lexicographical treatment in the update, as was Latinx, which is used in place of the gendered Latino or Latina, womxn, denoting gender fluidity and inclusivity in feminist discourse, and safe space, referring to a physical or emotionally safe environment, especially for marginalized identities.
Also prevalent in this update are words to describe systems of oppression, including whitelash, a hostile or violent reaction by white people to the advances or influx of nonwhite groups, colorism, and toxic masculinity. Male gaze was coined decades ago by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey, but has received a surge of awareness in the popular lexicon, especially in connection with the #MeToo movement.
The culture of misinformation connected to a tense political climate, and its singular impact on online discourse, continues to be a major theme in Dictionary.com's latest update. Media literacy, defined as the ability to critically analyze various media for accuracy, credibility, or evidence of bias, was added along with false flag, and tone policing, a conversational tactic that dismisses ideas perceived to be delivered in an emotionally charged manner. A number of new words relating to online bullying were also added – from cybermob and crybully to keyboard warrior and s***post. On the other end of the spectrum, virtue signaling was added to define performative behavior intended to garner praise or acknowledgment of one's righteousness.
Finally, the addition of words and acronyms relating to a collective sense of feeling overwhelmed – personally, professionally, or due to news and information overload – include JOMO (joy of missing out), ZFG, dumpster fire, welp, and womp womp. These terms tap into a shared dark humor surging through the cultural Zeitgeist. The addition of impostor syndrome explicitly defines a familiar feeling for many, which is the anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one's competence and role in achieving success, often attributing personal accomplishments to luck and external forces rather than skill.
"Language touches all aspects of society, and that's reflected in the words we've added," says Helen Langone, Director of Lexicographical Content at Dictionary.com. "The latest updates cover everything from slang and media terminology to issues that our users experience every day at home, work, and online. Through the addition of new words and definitions, we continue our mission of documenting the ever-changing English language."