An Editor's Guide to the Merriam-Webster January 2021 Update
Our January 2021 update to Merriam-Webster.com includes some changes that are likely to interest editors especially. As with all the additions and edits made to our dictionaries, these changes are based on a careful review of usage evidence.
- An anti- compound has acquired an additional styling.
former styling: anti-hysteric
new styling: anti-hysteric or antihysteric
'Black' as an Adjective and Noun
- Particular uses of both the adjective and noun black are now identified as being typically capitalized. See black entry 1 sense 2 and black entry 2 sense 4. The noun also includes a revised note about singular and plural use.
NOTE: Use of the noun Black in the singular to refer to a person is considered offensive. The plural form Blacks is still commonly used by Black people and others to refer to Black people as a group or community, but the plural form too is increasingly considered offensive, and most style guides advise writers to use Black people rather than Blacks when practical.
- Capitalization of the bubbly is now recognized.
former styling: champagne
new styling: champagne or less commonly Champagne
- The order of plural variants at cul-de-sac has been reversed.
former styling: cul-de-sac noun, plural culs-de-sac also cul-de-sacs
new styling: cul-de-sac noun, plural cul-de-sacs also culs-de-sac
- Alternate forms of the noun fox-trot have been added.
former styling: fox-trot
new styling: foxtrot or less commonly fox-trot or fox trot noun, plural foxtrots also fox-trots or fox trots
'Manned' and 'Unmanned'
- The entry for manned and unmanned now includes a usage discussion.
While manned and unmanned are still commonly used in news sources to describe spaceflights, NASA has since the early 21st century used and prescribed non-gender-specific terms, preferring such descriptors as human, piloted, and crewed for the former, and unpiloted and uncrewed for the latter.
- A folksy adverb used to express assent or to emphasize the beginning of a statement has additional forms.
former styling: okeydoke or okeydokey
new styling: okey dokey or okey-dokey or okeydokey or okey doke or okey-doke or okeydoke
- The verb tear gas now has three forms noted.
former styling: tear gas
new styling: tear-gas or tear gas or less commonly teargas; tear-gassed or tear gassed also teargassed; tear-gassing or tear gassing also teargassing; tear-gases or tear gasses also teargasses