Avo, rando and adorbs: the new words for 2018

I say: “Bingeable” refers to a TV show with episodes that can be watched in rapid succession. What do the other words mean?

Is the English language getting out of hand? Merriam-Webster has added over 800 new words to its dictionary, including “instagramming”. English has been constantly changing for centuries.

What’s happening

Do you get hangry if you do not eat your morning avo? These are among more than 800 words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year. The dictionary has been compared to a “glossary of life”, and the words that get added each year tell us interesting things about how the world is changing.

Find out more

Many of the words are abbreviations, like “fav”, “rando”, and “adorbs” (short for “favourite”, “random”, and “adorable”). These entries show that how people speak has changed over time.

Some words reflect recent social issues. For example, “food bank” and “tent city” link to poverty and migration. Others are futuristic: “biohacking” links to advanced technology which could connect human bodies to machines.

English has always been changing. It was very similar to German until 1066. Then, French invaders came to Britain bringing lots of new words derived from Latin.

Centuries later, and some dictionary entries are not even words at all. in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries named the “tears of joy” emoji its word of the year.

Is English getting out of hand?

Some say…

Absolutely. Rather than being inventive, these “new” words reveal a culture that is becoming lazy and shallow. We are losing the wonderful complexity of language. Is taking a few letters off the end of “guacamole” really something to celebrate? If this continues we will all be speaking in monosyllables and writing in emojis.

Others think…

Language is a living thing that is constantly evolving, reply others. Internet and texting culture is just the latest in a long line of changes that have influenced the way we speak and write. We live in an exciting time that is pushing the boundaries of what language can do. Resisting change is a losing battle.

You Decide

  1. Should slang words be added to the dictionary?

Activities

  1. What words would you add to the dictionary? In pairs or small groups write a list of the top 10 words you would add. Discuss with the class — can you agree on a class top 10?

Some People Say...

“Language is the road map of a culture.”

Rita Mae Brown

What do you think?

Word Watch

Hangry
A combination of the words “hungry” and “angry”.
Avo
Short for avocado — a green pear-shaped vegetable.
Rando
Can mean “random”, or refer to a person who is not well known.
Biohacking
Experimenting on the human body to improve its performance.
Derived
Starting from, or originating from, something else.
Monosyllables
Words with one syllable.
Evolving
A gradual process of change.

Subjects

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