Grandma's Tales

July 16, 2007

New words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary

Filed under: Language — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 5:43 am

The latest edition of Merriam-Webster dictionary, used widely in the US, will go on sale this September. Not news except it will have an additional 100 words giving legitimacy to new ones used in pop culture, technology and current events. For example, the next time a show-off uses the word “ginormous” you can nod your head wisely, rush to the latest copy of M-W and look it up. “Ginormous” is a combo word, taking bits from “giant” and “enormous” obviously meaning ‘larger than “giant” and “enormous” put together’. Another hype word for a hype-or-die society.
Of interest to all of us is the word “Bollywood”. I guess America can no longer ignore the power and influence of Bollywood. And the dictionary recognises the fact the word is mentioned by more than a handful of people. If you think the word had to be included because of the Bollywood crazy Indian population in the US, think again. The bump-and-grind Bollywood movies are now watched by American-Americans as well. Bollywood dancing is big here and is used by fitness instructors. A lot of people feel “Bollywood” is not a flattering one, looking as it does like a poor cousin of Hollywood, but it is too late now to worry about it! “Bollywood” is legit!
A few more words from the 2007 edition:
Crunk: a style of southern rap music
DVR: abbreciation for digital video recorder
Gray literature: hard-to-get written material
IED: abbreviation for improvised explosive device (the kind a bankrupt terrorist who doesn’t have big backing might use or one the police can’t identify)
Microgreen: a small portion of any standard salad plant (say, a bud of lettuce)
smackdown: a kind of contest in show wrestling
speed dating (Surprising this word hadn’t found its way into the dictionary): a quick, round-robin way of meeting people
Sudoku: Yes, the word is in! Call it Japanese soft appeal! Have you tried this Japanese number puzzle?
Telenovela: A Latin-American soap opera. These are supposed to be the fathers and mothers of the TV serial-killers we are all addicted to.



  1. Terrorists are all bankrupt. Morally bankrupt, that is. Also, I believe that someone ought to go back in time to kill Noah Webster for having corrupted the English language with the ridiculous American spellings.

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — July 17, 2007 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  2. I have a request. Could you have a post on good punctuation? I consider myself a fairly decent writer, but there are some aspects of punctuation that bother me, mostly regarding quotation marks.

    For example, let us say that I quote a phrase as part of a question. Also, the phrase forms the last part of the question. Conventional schools of thought indicate that the punctuation mark must also be within quotes, and, to the best of my ability, I try to stick to that. However, a logical dilemna arises. Putting a question or exclamation mark within the quote somewhat modifies it, and may not represent the quote in the manner intended by the writer. I haven’t found any Internet-based sources that indicate what should be done in such a situation, and it leaves me in a quandary.

    So, if you could help me out, that’d be fantastic.

    Comment by Navaneethan Santhanam — July 18, 2007 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  3. Sure, NS, just watch out!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — July 21, 2007 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

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