Times change, and so does the dictionary


New technology is adding words to the dictionary, even as books are being left behind. PHOTO: 123rf\

Selfie. Hashtag. Catfish.

The 21st century and its technology is adding a lot of new words to the dictionary.

What’s a dictionary? It’s book that lists most of the words in the English language and you tells you how to spell and pronounce them properly. What’s a book? Go ask your grandparents.

Take your time. If you were born during or after the Reagan administration, odds are you don’t really care how words are spelled or pronounced.

So anyway, this book you will never see and don’t care about has a bunch of new words in it because of you and your friends. For example, before you guys came along, everyone thought a catfish was something you caught and ate.

Now it is a person who sets up a Facebook account for his cat and creates some other kind of phony social media profile. (Doesn’t that woman on OKCupid look suspiciously like one of the mannequins at the mall?)

Then there is troll.

Most people used to think troll, as a noun, referred to a certain kind of short and disreputable fellow who lives under bridges and harrasses billy goats. As a verb, it generally referred to fishing from a moving boat while dragging the line through the water.

That explains your father’s confusion when you told him you were being trolled on the internet. Troll, by the new dictionary definition, refers to being bullied on the computer.

Stick that in your Funk & Wagnall’s.

Actually, stick it in your Merriam-Webster — along with selfie, hashtag, tweep, crowdfunding, steampunk and some 150 other new words.

A tweep, in case you are older and curious, is a young person roughly between the ages of 12 and 18 who regularly keeps company with adults ages 25 and older.

“So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods,” Peter Sokolowski, the editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, tells the website RawStory. “Tweep, selfie, and hashtag refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals.”

Selfie was admitted to the online version of the Oxford English dictionary in 2013 and was named Word of the Year.

Use it in a sentence? OK. “Your high school English teacher posted this selfie on Facebook … right before she killed herself.”

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