If you’ve started looking at the calendar, doubting whether 2017 will be a year of change, pump your brakes. Lots have changed. Merriam-Webster added over 1,000 words to the dictionary.
Every writers’ toolbox has expanded in a major way. Just imagine if you were a mechanic or a construction worker and some industrial supplier released one thousand new tools to do your job. But it didn’t happen to them. It happened to us.
Having more words to work with means we can make our writing more sharp, concise, colorful and specific. So without further ado, here are some of our new tools.
Reminders that entertainment and social media are shaping our lives
Binge-watch: to watch many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession
Photobomb: to move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or prank
Up-fake: a fake in which a player makes an upward movement to simulate starting to take a shot
Sports have always had an impact on society but sometimes we often overlook how much entertainment and social media impact our culture. Things like Instagram and Netflix are so young but yet are making such a major mark on how we communicate, live and spend our time.
Words borrowed from other cultures
Arancini: rounded balls of cooked rice with savory fillings (such as mozzarella cheese) that are coated with bread crumbs and deep-fried
Macaron: a light, often brightly colored sandwich cookie consisting of two rounded disks made from a batter of egg whites, sugar, and almond flour surrounding a sweet filling (as of ganache, buttercream, or jam)
Santoku: a medium-sized, multipurpose kitchen knife of Japanese origin that has a lightweight blade with a straight or slightly curved cutting edge and a spine that curves downward to the tip
Interest in international cuisines has been on the rise and is predicted to be one of the top food trends of 2017. So, I expect to see a growing number of food-related words popping up around us. And I cannot wait to read a story about a crime committed with a santoku.
Slang gets real
Ride Shotgun: to ride in the front passenger seat of a vehicle
Ghost: to abruptly cut off all contact with (someone, such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.
Throw Shade: to express contempt or disrespect for someone publicly especially by subtle or indirect insults or criticisms
Weak Sauce: something inferior, ineffective, or unimpressive: something weak
Yowza: used to express surprise or amazement
When informal language gets clout, it’s another example of importing language from other cultures. The difference is the mainstream opens the doors, or has them pried open, by alternative segments of society.
Call it like it is
Pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern
Side-Eye: a sidelong glance or gaze especially when expressing scorn, suspicion, disapproval, or veiled curiosity
Supercentenarian: a person who is 110 years old or older
Snollygoster: a shrewd, unprincipled person
These words can help tighten your descriptions.
Merriam-Webster said snollygoster used to be a word. It was a way of name-calling in political circles in the 19th century. But it was dropped from the dictionary in 2003 because it was rarely used. Guess who gets credit for making it hot again? Bill O’Reilly.
Words from the arts
Bokeh: the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken with a narrow depth of field
Conlang: an invented language intended for human communication that has planned and cohesive phonological, grammatical, and syntactical systems
Mumblecore: a genre of narrative film focusing primarily on the intimate lives of young characters and featuring scenes of ample dialogue and minimal action
Fast Fashion: an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers
Seussian: of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel ); especially: having a playfully inventive or outlandish quality typical or reminiscent of the words and images found in children’s stories like The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas
One example of conlang is Elvish, which is a language J. R. R. Tolkien used in Lord of the Rings.
According to The New Yorker, mumblecore was coined by Eric Masunaga, who was the sound mixer for the film “Funny Ha Ha,” which inspired the term. And it appears that the reason there’s minimal action is because the mumblecore films are low-budget and feature inexperienced actors.
And one last thing…You have totally pimped the writing game when your name inspires an adjective. Dr. Suess, you’re the man.