Dictionary.com has a new list of more than 1,500 words for your consideration.
On Tuesday, the site released fresh entries, along with updates and revisions to existing words. You may know some of them well already. Others may prompt controversy, because of their social and political significance.
But John Kelly, senior director of editorial at Dictionary.com, told Mashable that the new terms and updates “are simply reflecting how culture is changing.”
Trauma dumping, rage farming, and queerbaiting, which are typically used to describe harmful or toxic behavior, all made their debut. Petfluencer, cyberflash, and cakeism also made an appearance for the first time.
And while woke has long appeared as a formal entry, Dictionary.com updated the word’s entry to include the way it’s used negatively to disparage “liberal progressive orthodoxy.”
Dictionary.com’s latest update addresses social justice issues, accessibility tech, and the global climate crisis
Kelly said that some additions are words that define “modern problems,” and indicate just how swiftly language evolves online.
The term trauma dumping has only recently become a familiar way to describe “unsolicited, one-sided sharing of traumatic or intensely negative experiences or emotions in an inappropriate setting or with people who are unprepared for the interaction.” In late 2021, Mashable described the trend as “a symptom of a much more complex problem” related to social media use, changing expectations of what’s appropriate to share publicly, and limited access to mental health treatment.
Rage farming was coined by the spyware, malware, and disinformation researcher John Scott-Railton, and is used to define “the tactic of intentionally provoking political opponents, typically by posting inflammatory content on social media, in order to elicit angry responses and thus high engagement or widespread exposure for the original poster.”
Queerbaiting, which can describe “a marketing technique involving intentional homoeroticism or suggestions of LGBTQ+ themes intended to draw in an LGBTQ+ audience, without explicit inclusion of openly LGBTQ+ relationships, characters, or people,” has become a common term in online debates over whether certain celebrities (ahem, Harry Styles) are guilty of using the tactic. Last year, Mashable contributor Katie Baskerville argued that using the word can have the effect of questioning someone’s sexuality in negative or accusatory ways.
Kelly said that words like these name “problems that have become accelerated by what it means to live our lives online in a digital context.”
The update also features inclusive words related to gender, sexuality, and relationships, like abrosexual, folx, sexual minority, and multisexual. Kelly said these words reflect the fact that for many people gender isn’t a binary experience, and sexuality is fluid.
Kelly noted that some people may expect a dictionary to reflect a “certain kind of reality,” and might feel uncomfortable with words that don’t define gender as a binary experience. Indeed, objections to such language are central to conservative campaigns aiming to limit what children can learn at school about gender and sexuality.
Kelly said that Dictionary.com didn’t have an opinion on whether certain words should or shouldn’t be used, but that it’s the job of lexicographers to document how people are talking about their lives.
“This language is changing no matter what,” Kelly said. “We can’t stop that natural, organic evolution of words.”
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