A Sample of
New Dictionary Words for 2012

SPRINGFIELD, MASS., August 14, 2012 — Merriam-Webster has released its list of new words being added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, and the list provides a revealing look at American culture. Words from cutting-edge science (copernicium, a new chemical element) and pop culture (man cave) and words elevated by foodies (gastropub) are among the latest additions to America's best-selling dictionary, available now in print and online at Merriam-Webster.com.

"Some of the new words this year provide colorful images," says Merriam-Webster Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski. "Terms like 'man cave,' 'underwater' (when used to describe mortgages), 'earworm,' and 'bucket list' paint vivid pictures in your mind. They show that English-speakers can be very creative as they describe the world around them." Merriam-Webster's editors monitor the changing language and add new terms to the dictionary once those words come into widespread use across a variety of publications.

Newly added words used to describe the global financial crisis include systemic risk ("the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole") and a new sense for underwater ("having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth").

The vocabulary of technology now includes cloud computing ("the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet") and the controversial act of sexting ("the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone").

Pop culture brings us earworm ("a song or melody that keeps repeating in one's mind") — this summer's example being the inescapable Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen — and mash-up ("something created by combining elements from two or more sources"), a technique used in movie trailers, viral videos, music, and books. "Whether it's a politician contradicting him or herself with excerpts from different speeches shown in quick succession or Danger Mouse's Grey Album, mixing Jay-Z with the Beatles, we've come to expect combined and rearranged elements that bring new perspectives and new creativity to our culture with mash-ups," says editor Sokolowski. "It's a recent phenomenon, made possible with digital editing, and it has a fun and descriptive name."

Other words added include bucket list (popularized by the movie title), energy drink, game changer, gassed (a slang word meaning drained of energy), Oprah Winfrey's signature phrase aha moment (a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension), and f-bomb (a lighthearted and printable euphemism).

Check out just a few of the new words added to this year's update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, and their definitions, by clicking below:

  1. aha moment
  2. bucket list
  3. cloud computing
  4. copernicium
  5. earworm
  6. energy drink
  7. f-bomb
  8. game changer
  9. gassed
  10. gastropub
  11. man cave
  12. mash-up
  13. sexting
  14. systemic risk
  15. underwater