What is the meaning?

Each year the Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds new words to their collegiate dictionary and 2009 is no exception. If you are a wordsmith you might enjoy finding out some of the newest additions.

Even though many of these words have been used by people for a number of years, they have never been included in the dictionary, until now. Examples: flash mob, it is a noun dating back to 1987 and refers to a group of people summoned by e-mail or text messaging to a designated location at a specific time to perform an indicated action before dispersing. The noun frenemy dates back to 1977 and refers to someone who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy. A locavore is a noun referring to someone who eats locally grown food whenever possible. I expect that more people become locavores during the summer.

With gas prices high and many people out of work, one of the most popular destinations this summer is the staycation, the term has been around since 2005 and is a combination of the words stay and vacation. It simply means a vacation spent at home or nearby. I will probably join the ranks as a staycationer this summer.

The internet is changing the way we speak in subtle ways and one of those is with the word vlog. Since 2002 we have been using the word which is a combination of video and blog to describe a blog that contains video material. In addition, we now have webisodes. That refers to an episode of a TV show that may or may not have been telecast but can be viewed at a web site.

Another recent addition to the dictionary has been around since 1990. The term green collar relates to jobs which protect the natural environment.

There is a noun which has been around since 1993 and is a take on the word couch potato. A mouse potato is a person who spends a great deal of time using a computer.

I was surprised to find out what a soul patch is. Although the term has been around since 1991, I never heard about it until recently. A soul patch is the small growth of beard under a man’s lower lip.

I know most of us have heard the term big box. It is a noun that we have been using since 1990 to describe a large chain store. It refers to the stores as having a boxlike structure.

The term Sandwich Generation has also been in use for awhile. Since 1987 we have been using that term to describe a generation of people who are caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children. Kind of putting themselves in the middle so to speak.

Words are fun and creative and it is great to know that there are always new ones to learn. We also learn some new words from our children and grandchildren if we listen. When my grandson, Noah, talks about things that are so big he has no word to describe them. He calls them gi-normous – that is a cross between giant and enormous.

Little Annika enjoyed making s’mores on July 4th and really wanted some more of those graham crappers. I guess that is what the word sounded like to her.

I also found a few unwords which in time will probably make their way into the dictionary.

The word craptent refers to content that lacks quality. A cafetorium is a room in an underfunded school which is a combination of a cafeteria and auditorium. Eyelidology is the study of one’s own eyelids. Educators can be often be accused of being qualificated. That is, they are not only qualified, but also educated.

There are things within our homes that often require new words to explain them. Such as bathquake, the violent quake that rattles the house when the water faucet is turned to a certain point. Carperpetuation is the act of vacuuming over a string or piece of lint at least a dozen times. Picking it up, examining it and putting it back down to try to vacuum again. This goes hand in hand with circumvaculate. That is the act of remaining stationary while vacuuming in a circle around oneself.

There are two similar unwords which refer to the same time of day. Chicken-thirty and O-dark-thirty usually mean very early in the day.

The last unword that I came across really struck home with me. When I was a child my sisters accused me of this but they didn’t have a good word for it. Now I realize that I had dishwasher dysentery all along. It is an escape from doing chores, in which one finds oneself suddenly having to use the bathroom upon realizing that it is their turn to clean up after dinner. More specifically, it’s their turn to wash the dishes and they have to run to the bathroom first.

My hope is that this little column has not left you comatext but has given you a new appreciation of communification.