Merriam-Webster's New Words: Swole, Stan, Buzzy, Bottom Surgery

The Merriam-Webster dictionary swelled by 640 new words this month with new additions. Though it’s tempting to say the dictionary “swole,” that would be an old-school use of the word that has come to mean muscular in the modern vernacular. It’s addition will surely cause “buzzy” debate — that is cause a lot of speculative or excited talk.

People who complain too much about the new words could be branded “snowflakes.” The word no longer just means the icy crystals that fall from the sky. Snowflake is now politically charged to describe someone regarded or treated as “unique or special” and is “someone who is overly sensitive.”

Purple no longer just refers to the royal hue. In modern usage, it’s a political term for a state that splits its votes between Democrats (blue) and Republicans (red).

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Goldilocks, who preferred her porridge neither too hot nor too cold, is no longer just for fairy tales. Astronomers now use the word to describe “an area of planetary orbit in which temperatures are neither too cold nor too hot to support life.”

And if you think “tailwind” and “headwind” are words you only need to know while pedaling your bicycle, think again. The words are now often used figuratively to refer to a force or influence that either helps or hinders progress.

Merriam-Webster said the recent additions mirror culture’s need to make sense of the world with the words we use.

“There are always new things to be named and new uses for existing words to be explained,” Merriam-Webster said in a press release. “A release of new words is also a map of the workings of a dictionary — you get to see what we’ve been up to — and of how words from different contexts come to reside in the same place.”

Some of the other words added to the dictionary include:

Stan: We can thank rapper Eminem for this one describe “an extremely or excessively enthusiastic devoted fan.” Also, “to stan” is “to exhibit fandom to an extreme or excessive degree: to be an extremely devoted and enthusiastic fan of something or something.”

Garbage time: No, this isn’t trash pickup day. It’s the final minutes of a game when one team has an insurmountable lead.

Go-cup: Environmentalists won’t be happy about this one, but it’s a word to describe a plastic or paper cup used when you want to take your drink with you from a restaurant, bar, coffeeshop or wherever.

Qubit: This portmanteau — a new word resulting from two words — is a blend of “quantum” and “bit” to describe the unit of information in a computational model based on the unstable quantities of quantum mechanics.

Salutogenesis: A newer way of thinking about health, salutogenesis is a manner of monitoring health by promoting well-being rather than measuring disease.

Bottom surgery: A type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s genitalia are altered to match their gender identity.

Top surgery: A type of gender confirmation surgery in which a person’s breasts are removed or augmented to match their gender identity.

Vulture capitalism: This term, first used in the “greed is good” 1980s, is a form of venture capitalism in which aggressive methods are used to buy a distressed business with the intention of selling it at a profit.

Bottle episode: This word comes from entertainment to mean an inexpensively produced episode of a television show typically confined to one setting.

EGOT: Also from entertainment, this acronym signifies a rare achievement by an entertainer who earns an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.

For sure, your vocabulary will be swole if you use these words.

Read more from Merriam-Webster.