The relentless coronavirus pandemic, the nation’s ongoing reckoning with race and identity, and the ever-changing world of technology continue to shape the English language — including slang.
The latest additions to Dictionary.com include a series of race- and virus-related terms, such as “Black Code” and “long hauler,” as well as increasingly common expressions like “yeet,” “oof” and “s—tshow,” the online lexicon revealed Wednesday.
“The latest update to our dictionary continues to mirror the world around us,” said John Kelly, the website’s managing editor. “Long COVID, minoritize, 5G, content warning, domestic terrorism — it’s a complicated and challenging society we live in, and language changes to help us grapple with it.”
Dictionary.com defines “long COVID” as a condition characterized by symptoms or health problems that linger or appear after recovering from the virus. “Long hauler” has a similar use, relating to the long-term effects of an acute illness or infection.
“Minoritize” was updated to define the action of making a person or group subordinate in status to a more dominant group or its members — one of multiple updates showing how the ongoing debate on race has changed the English language. “Black Code,” for instance, is now defined as any code of law that limited the rights of formerly enslaved African-Americans following the Civil War.
The website also updated its entry for “Aunt Jemima,” which is now defined as a disparaging and offensive term used to refer to a Black woman considered by other Black people to be subservient to or to curry favor with white people.
“DEI” — which stands for diversity, equity and inclusion — was also added to describe a conceptual framework promoting the fair treatment and full participation of all people, including those who have historically been underrepresented or subject to discrimination, especially in the workplace.
But the English language sometimes changes “just for fun,” Kelly said.
“Yes, yeet is now in the dictionary, which may prompt some of us to use one other of our new entries: oof!” he said.
The increasingly popular exclamation “yeet” is used to show enthusiasm, approval, triumph, pleasure and joy, according to Dictionary.com. “Oof,” on the other hand, is an exclamation to sympathize with someone else’s pain or dismay, or to express one’s own.
“Perhaps these lighter slang and pop culture newcomers to our dictionary reflect another important aspect of our time — a cautious optimism and a brighter mood about the future ahead after a trying 2020,” Kelly said in a statement.
Other interesting additions include:
– 5G: fifth-generation: being or relating to communications technology or a mobile device that supports much faster data-transfer speeds with significantly lower latency than previous versions.
– a—hat: a foolish, annoying, or contemptible person; a—hole.
– asynchronous: relating to or being a computer operation that can occur independently, without waiting for another event.
– blamestorm: the process of assigning blame for a negative outcome or situation.
– boondoggle: a wasteful and worthless project undertaken for political, corporate, or personal gain, typically a government project funded by taxpayers.
– cultural appropriation: the adoption, usually without acknowledgment, of cultural identity markers from subcultures or minority communities into mainstream culture by people with a relatively privileged status.
– domestic terrorism: the unlawful use of violence or threats against a country’s civilian population or government by an individual or group based and operating within the same country and without foreign direction, with the goal of furthering political, social, or ideological objectives.
– deplatform: to prohibit (a person or people) from sharing their views in a public forum, especially by banning a user from posting on a social media website or application.
– hypodescent: the classifying or identifying of a biracial or multiracial individual as a member of the lower or lowest socially ranking racial group from which that person has ancestry.
– ingenue: the role of a young, innocent, and appealing character in a play, movie, TV show, etc., typically a female role.
– lemming: a person who follows the will of others, especially in a mass movement, and heads straight into a situation or circumstance that is dangerous, stupid or destructive.
– misper: a missing person.
– one-drop rule: a social classification, codified in law in some states during the 20th century, that identifies biracial or multiracial individuals as Black if they have any known Black African ancestry, even from a Black ancestor many generations removed.
– s—tshow: a person or thing that is a total mess, failure or disaster.
– scrappy: having or showing spirit and determination, especially in spite of obstacles
– snack: a sexy and physically attractive person; hottie.
– synchronous: relating to or being a computer operation that must complete before another event can begin.
– TW: abbreviation; trigger warning. a stated warning that the content of the immediately following text, video, etc., may cause distressing psychological or physiological reactions, especially in people who have previously experienced a related trauma.
– trap house: a place where illicit drugs are bought, sold or used.
– y’all: you (used in direct address usually to two or more people, or to one person who represents a family, organization, etc.).
– youse: you (usually used in addressing two or more people).
– you-uns: you (used in direct address usually to two or more persons).
– zaddy: an attractive man who is also stylish, charming and self-confident.
Story by Nelson Oliveira, New York Daily News