BAKER: New words for your dictionary in 2021

Published 11:37 am Monday, March 15, 2021

By Bill Baker

Several months ago, one of my columns was focused on the “Word of the Year in 2020.” The word was pandemic. And along with that one, there were other words that were introduced in 2020.

One of my readers suggested it wasn’t a new word at the time.

His reasoning was that Merriam-Webster added it to the dictionary only after it had been in almost constant use for months.

In that sense, he was correct.  Now, he will have another case to make since the dictionary publisher has released not just one word of the year for 2021 but a total of 520 new dictionary words.  (Merriam-Webster.com/new words)

This year’s additions include more words that are related to the pandemic which is still affecting all of us, in our homes, schools, workplaces, and indeed in the nation.

Among the new additions or sometimes updates:  coworking, hard pass, cancel culture, and silver fox.

Coworking is defined as “being, relating to, or working in a building where multiple tenants rent working space and have the use of communal facilities.”

Hard pass is “…a firm refusal or rejection of something (such as an offer.)”

Cancel culture is defined as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.”

Silver fox describes “…an attractive middle-aged man having mostly gray or white hair.”

One other example labeled “Words Looking to the Future:” Second Gentleman, defined as “the husband or male partner of a vice president or second in command of a country or jurisdiction.”

That’s either enough or too much information, but if you love words, you can always check out the Merriam-Webster website when you have time and the interest.

A final thought for the day.  You might want to impress your grandchildren with your newfound knowledge of trends during the pandemic.  Or join the reader from a year ago to remind me that these are not all new words.  Some are being recycled.

Enjoy the rest of today’s paper!

Dr. William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident.