520 New Words

Merriam-Webster adds more than 520 new words to dictionary, including ‘COVID-19,’ ‘second gentleman’ and ‘sapiosexual’,ASMR%E2%80%9D%20and%20%E2%80%9Csapiosexual.%E2%80%9D

Proving yet again that the English language is live and constantly growing, the dictionary has added an amazing number of new words to our recognized set of words. This adding to the language is part of the history of English. According to Shakespeare’s Words, the Bard of Avon added 1700 new words to our everyday use of the language. The list includes such commonly used words as:

· Bandit. Henry VI, Part 2. 1594.

· Critic. Love's Labour Lost. 1598.

· Dauntless. Henry VI, Part 3. 1616.

· Dwindle. Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

· Elbow (as a verb) King Lear. 1608.

· Green-Eyed (to describe jealousy) The Merchant of Venice. 1600.

· Lackluster. As You Like It. 1616.

· Lonely. Coriolanus. 1616.

Not that I am trying to make us all into scholars of literature or written language. I just think it is so interesting how important words can be to depicting a particular time and place. The 520 new words in “the dictionary” also includes a new word “folx” which is used in place of folks, and “highlights how important written language is right now.”

In writing your family stories, in telling about your folx, what particular words will you need? My Momma was not notably a gossip—she rarely paid attention to the scandals of others. Partly because she herself was involved in a five-year affair with a married man who did not live in our small town in rural Utah. In regard to the gossips, she often told us, “If they are talking about you, at least they are giving someone else a rest.” Nevertheless, I recall that on more than one occasion she declared that some man or another was a “cad and a bounder” or that some fellow one was a “schyster.” I do not recall her having such colorful descriptors for any women.

Momma’s parents and her siblings engaged in many lively conversations, lots of word play. I attribute my family’s love of language to my grandmother. I think Grandma Yardley completed high school, but I have no documentation for that event. Grandma was a reader and a writer who memorized poems, including every stanza of The Cremation of Sam McGee. I know from his autobiography that my beloved grandpa dropped out of school in fourth grade for two reasons—the bullying from other children because he was not a Mormon and he did not have any shoes for the coming winter. Nevertheless, Grandpa was a lifelong learner. Regardless of how long his day on the farm was, Grandpa ended every evening with a book or the newspaper.

As you work to write your family stories, as you work to identify your words, maybe you will experience one of the new dictionary entries:

“ASMR,” or autonomous sensory meridian response, means “a pleasant tingling sensation that originates on the back of the scalp and often spreads to the neck and upper spine, that occurs in some people in response to a stimulus (such as a particular kind of sound or movement), and that tends to have a calming effect.”

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