We Added 370 New Words to the Dictionary for September 2022
The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes, which means new words and definitions must continually be added. When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion. Here are a selection of words that met the criteria for our most recent update.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY
This update features a range of technology-related terms, including a playful retronym that contrasts with the ubiquitous smartphone.
supply chain : the chain of processes, businesses, etc. by which a commodity is produced and distributed : the companies, materials, and systems involved in manufacturing and delivering goods
greenwash verb 1 : to make (something, such as a product, policy, or practice) appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is 2 : to mislead (someone) by means of greenwashing greenwash noun : something (such as a claim or action) that is intended to make a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is
THE VIRTUAL WORLD
metaverse 1 computing : a persistent virtual (see VIRTUAL sense 2) environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities also : any of the individual virtual environments that make up a metaverse 2 cosmology : the hypothetical combination of all co-existing or sequentially existing universes
sponcon : content (see CONTENT entry 1 sense 1c) posted usually by an influencer on social media that looks like a typical post but for which the poster has been paid to advertise a product or service
virtue signaling : the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one's awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action
THE NATURAL WORLD AND BEING OUT IN IT
But of course the real world hasn’t gone away.
atmospheric river : a concentrated band of water vapor that flows through the atmosphere and that is a significant part of the global hydrologic cycle and an important source of regional precipitation
surface wave : an earthquake vibration propagated near the surface of the earth
magnet fishing : the sport or hobby of using a strong magnet attached to the end of a rope to find metal objects in bodies of water
mud season : a time of year (such as early spring) that is characterized by excessively muddy ground
OUT OF THIS WORLD
space force : the military organization of a nation for space warfare
terraform : to transform (a planet, moon, etc.) so that it is suitable for supporting human life
SLANG AND INFORMAL LANGUAGE
Words in this category have traditionally taken longer to meet our criteria, but that timeline is getting shorter as the internet accelerates the adoption of informal language.
adorkable informal : socially awkward or quirky in a way that is endearing
MacGyver slang : to make, form, or repair (something) with what is conveniently on hand
baller informal : excellent, exciting, or extraordinary especially in a way that is suggestive of a lavish lifestyle
FWIW abbreviation for what it’s worth
ICYMI abbreviation in case you missed it
WORKING, BANKING, AND MONEY
Our additions describe new ways to sell products, use (or not use) banks, and invest.
gift economy : a system in which goods and services are given freely between people rather than sold or bartered
shrinkflation : the practice of reducing a product's amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price
unbanked : not having money deposited in a bank; also : not deposited in a bank
underbanked : not using or having access to a full range of banking options
side hustle : work performed for income supplementary to one's primary job
HEALTH & HEALING
It’s been two and a half years since our special update in March 2020, but the effects of COVID-19 on our lives—and our language—continue to be felt. All of the new health-related terms have existed for years, but they’ve recently entered common speech, and therefore qualified for entry:
booster dose : a supplementary dose of a therapeutic agent designed to increase the effectiveness of one or more previously administered doses
emergency use authorization : an authorization granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during a public health emergency that allows for the use of a drug or other medical product prior to its full approval
false negative : a person or test result that is incorrectly classified as negative (as for the presence of a health condition) because of imperfect testing methods or procedures
false positive : a person or test result that is incorrectly classified as positive (as for the presence of a health condition) because of imperfect testing methods or procedures
JUST HAVING FUN
New to our dictionary is a term for a creature of remarkable cuteness, as well as a word for a rather complex kind of play.
LARP : a live-action role-playing game in which a group of people enacts a fictional scenario (such as a fantasy adventure) in real time typically under the guidance of a facilitator or organizer (verb, LARPER, and LARPING also have new entries)
Galentine’s Day : a holiday observed on February 13th as a time to celebrate friendships especially among women
level up : to advance or improve (oneself, someone else, or something) in or as if in a game
WE ALL HAVE TO EAT
Names of foods from around the world become familiar to us through menus, recipes, and cooking shows. But homegrown flavors—particularly one that’s become (in)famously associated with autumn—also give us new words that need to be defined.
pumpkin spice : a mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie
omakase noun : a series of small servings or courses (as of sushi) offered at a fixed price and whose selection is left to the chef's discretion omakase adverb or adjective : “according to the chef's choice”
ras el hanout : a mixture of ground spices that is used in northern African cooking and includes coriander, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and other spices
mojo : a sauce, marinade, or seasoning that is usually composed primarily of olive oil, garlic, citrus juice, and spices (such as black pepper and cumin)
oat milk : a liquid made from ground oats and water that is usually fortified (as with calcium and vitamins) and used as a milk substitute
sessionable of alcoholic beverages : having a light body and a lower-than-average percentage of alcohol
plant-based 1 : made or derived from plants 2 : consisting primarily or entirely of food (such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils, and beans) derived from plants
banh mi : a usually spicy sandwich in Vietnamese cuisine consisting of a split baguette filled typically with meat (such as pork or chicken) and pickled vegetables (such as carrot and daikon) and garnished with cilantro and often cucumbers
For the previous batch of new words, check out our October 2021 additions.