Merriam-Webster adds COVID-related terms to dictionary


Posted at Jan 27 2021 11:56 PM | Updated as of Jan 28 2021 08:08 AM

MANILA - "ASMR", "silver fox" and other COVID-19 pandemic related terms are among 520 new words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary for January 2021.

Among the words added to the dictionary are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word "COVID-19", which it also recently added to its dictionary, went from being a coinage to a dictionary entry in merely 34 days.

Some of the COVID-19 related words are not really new, but were given new meaning because of the pandemic.

For example, Merriam Webster added new definitions for "pod" and "bubble". 

"Pod" now also means "a small groups of people who regularly interact closely with one another but with few or no others to reduce transmission", while "bubble" is an "an area within which sports teams stay isolated from the general public during a series of scheduled games so as to prevent exposure to disease."

Merriam-Webster also added new words derived from online communication such as "reaction GIF", "digital blackface", "hard pass", "cancel culture" and "flex".

With majority of people now working from home due to the pandemic, words related to new ways of working also gained popularity in recent years.

Words such as "coworking", "makerspace", and "gig worker" are now included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Words about identity, such as the abbreviation "BIPOC", which means "Black, Indigenous and People of Color", "folx", "sapiosexual" and "silver fox" likewise made their dictionary debut.

"ASMR", or autonomous sensory meridian response, "hygge" and "entheogen", which Merriam-Webster categorized as "words of comfort", can now be found in the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster also added the term "Second Gentleman" in its dictionary, on account of the election of Kamala Harris, the US' first female vice president.

Her husband, Douglas Craig Emhoff, is the US' first ever Second Gentleman.

According to Merriam-Webster, though the term is not new, because there have been Second Gentlemen in various states in the past, it is now finally common enough to be put in the dictionary.

Prior to this batch of new words, Merriam-Webster added 535 new words, including "deepfake" and "zonkey", last April 2020.