I was clearing out some old newspapers when I came across the continuation of a story from August about words being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I meant to write about at the time. That ever happen to you? Here’s the article.

Shown below are some of the words, along with a few thoughts about them. The years indicate first documented use.

aha moment
– n (1939) a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Surprised this didn’t make it sooner.

brain cramp
– n (1982): an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

There are some variations on this term that may be more popular.

bucket list
– n (2006): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

I was really shocked this was so recent, since they’ve made a 2007 movie with this title; check out this website of things you should do before “kicking the bucket”

cloud computing
– n (2006): the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet

I still don’t understand how this work, even though I have some music stored there

copernicium
– n (2009): a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons

When they say short-lived, they are not kidding. I think it was measured in nanoseconds. Can this be a real element?

craft beer
– n (1986): a specialty beer produced in limited quantities: MICROBREW

I’ve also heard the term artisan used.

earworm
– n (1802) 1: CORN EARWORM 2: a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind

I assume the second usage is a lot more recent.

energy drink
– n (1904): a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy

Those late 19th and early 20th century elixirs had all sort of funky stuff in them.

e-reader
– n (1999): a handheld electronic device designed to be used for reading e-books and similar material

Maybe some day, I’ll have one…

f-bomb
– n (1988): … used metaphorically as a euphemism

Such a delicately described definition!

flexitarian*
– n (1998): one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish

I’ve seen the term, but I’ve never heard anyone actually say it.

game changer
– n (1993): a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

It’s such an obvious sports metaphor, I figured it would be much older.

gassed*
– adj (1919) … 2 slang: drained of energy: SPENT, EXHAUSTED

A certain irony that being gassed and being out of gas have similar meanings.

gastropub
– n (1996): a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality

Never heard anyone ever say this either.

geocaching*
– n (2000): a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device

This is something I would do, if I had the time. And the right equipment.

life coach
– n (1986): an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems

I probably need one.

man cave
– n (1992): a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

There was a big to-do in the Albany area when the man cave of a pair of state workers was discovered.

mash-up
– n (1859): something created by combining elements from two or more sources

I assume the original meaning was about liquor. The current definition, regarding music or video, wasn’t broadly technologically available for that long.

obesogenic*
– adj (1986): promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity

I’ve never seen or heard of this word.

sexting
– n (2007): the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

Something that I hope I don’t have to explain to my daughter.

shovel-ready*
– adj (1998): of a construction project or site: ready for the start of work

Very popular after the government stimulus program.

systemic risk*
– n (1982): 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

The SOBs.

tipping point*
– n (1959): the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place

This always reminded me of a seesaw.

toxic*
– adj (1664) … 4: relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

The SOBs, part 2.

underwater*
– adj (1672) … 3: having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth

I’ve known so many people in this situation in the past three years.
***
14 wonderful words with no English equivalent.

*Not shown in the newspaper article.

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