Did you know that there is a word called dumbphone that describes a mobile phone that lacks sophisticated software features like email or an internet browser that are typically found on smartphones?

The word, along with greenwash or to appear more environmentally friendly, sponcon or content posted by influencers that looks like a typical post on social media but is actually paid advertisement, sus that is the slang word for suspicious and suspect, and yeet or expression of surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm, and throw with abandon as a verb, are just some of the 370 new words Merriam-Webster added and updated 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,” said Merriam-Webster, Inc., the oldest dictionary publisher in the United States.

Check below some of these words.

This update features a range of technology-related terms, including a playful retronym that contrasts with the ubiquitous smartphone.

dumbphone : a cell phone that does not include advanced software features (such as email or an internet browser) typically found on smartphones

video doorbell : a small security camera that is designed for use on an exterior door, that includes or connects to a doorbell, and that often has a microphone and speaker : DOORBELL CAMERA

microgrid : a small grid; especially : a local electrical grid (see GRID sense 2a(3)) that can be connected to a larger network but that is also capable of operating independently

use case : a use to which something (such as a proposed product or service) can be put : APPLICATION sense 1a(2)

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

All the time we spend online shapes how we communicate both online and in meatspace—that’s “the physical world and environment especially as contrasted with the virtual world of cyberspace.”

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

laggy : having a delayed or slow response (as to a user’s input) : marked or affected by lag

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

But of course the real world hasn’t gone away.

dawn chorus : the singing of wild birds that closely precedes and follows sunrise especially in spring and summer

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

free dive : to swim beneath the surface of water especially at considerable depth without a portable breathing device and typically with a face mask and one or two flippers : to engage in free diving

mud season : a time of year (such as early spring) that is characterized by excessively muddy ground

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

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.

yeet interjection, slang — used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm yeet verb : to throw especially with force and without regard for the thing being thrown

janky informal : of very poor quality : JUNKY; also : not functioning properly or adequately : FAULTY


lewk slang : a fashion look (see LOOK entry 2 sense 2c) that is distinctive to the wearer and that is noticeable and memorable to others

pwn slang : to dominate and defeat (someone or something) : OWN sense 1b, ROUT entry 2 sense 1a

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

cringe slang : so embarrassing, awkward, etc. as to cause one to cringe : CRINGEWORTHY

FWIW abbreviation for what it’s worth

ICYMI abbreviation in case you missed it

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

altcoin : any of various cryptocurrencies that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin

side hustle : work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job

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:

subvariant : one of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant

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

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.

hoglet chiefly British : a baby hedgehog (see HEDGEHOG sense 1a)

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

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)

birria : a Mexican dish of stewed meat seasoned especially with chili peppers

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

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