'Pawternity Leave' Among Dictionary.com's New Words

Dictionary.com added nearly twice as many new words as Merriam-Webster in 2022
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2022 1:51 PM CDT
'Pawternity Leave' Among Dictionary.com's New Words
   (Getty - Manel Subirats)

It’s new-word season in the dictionary world. First, as every dictionary editor likes to point out, dictionaries do not invent words, they merely document them. As staffers at Dictionary.com put it, "a word doesn’t become a 'real word' when we add it to the dictionary … we add a word to the dictionary because it is a real word used by real people in the real world." This year, the Random House Dictionary (the source for Dictionary.com) added 620 new entries, plus 700 new definitions for existing entries and 3,100 revised definitions. New entries include churn rate, the percentage of employees that cycle through a company, and pawternity leave, which is when people take leave from work to welcome a new pet into their home.

There are also several entries related to gender-neutrality and sexuality, such as bachelorx party (where all revelers are welcome) and demisexual (someone attracted only to people with whom they have an existing emotional bond). Other nods to diversity and inclusion include lavender ceiling—the upper limit of professional advancement imposed on LGBTQ+ people—and stimming, the repetition of physical movements or articulated noises exhibited by people, especially young children and those with autism spectrum disorders.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced its 370 new words last month, including yeet (to express surprise or approval), metaverse, and atmospheric river. Across the pond, Oxford English Dictionary added a number of football terms, per STV News, including squeaky bum time, the sound of someone shifting restlessly on plastic seating during tense closing stages of a contest. In other dictionary news, Oxford is teaming up with Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates, Jr., to develop the Oxford Dictionary of African-American English, scheduled for publication in 2025. (More Dictionary.com stories.)

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