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42 Words That Were Added to the Dictionary in 2021

by Alex Bresler Dec 21, 2021

We tend to think of dictionaries as authorities on language. But new words and phrases are invented all the time. First they’re used colloquially, then they become widespread. It’s only after these terms are already functionally part of our vocabularies that they’re added to the dictionary, which like language itself is a living thing.

In today’s day and age, internet-speak, current events, and the moving target that is modern slang are largely behind new dictionary additions. At least a thousand entries have been added to various dictionaries in 2021 alone. Here are some of the most hilarious, vital, and topical terms you can now play in Scrabble, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Collins, and

Dictionary additions 2021: Collins Dictionary

As of July, HarperCollins added nine new words and phrases to its dictionary in 2021. These are some of the highlights.

Capsule hotel n. a hotel that offers cheap accommodation in very small compartments

Crypto n. slang short for cryptocurrency

Dad joke n. informal a joke that is regarded as weak or corny, esp one involving a laboured pun

Tourist tax n. a tax levied on tourists, esp to discourage overcrowding in popular destinations

Vacay n. American and Canadian informal short for vacation

Dictionary additions 2021: added around 600 words and phrases to its collection of definitions this year. These are some of the highlights.

DEI abbr. diversity, equity, and inclusion: a conceptual framework that promotes the fair treatment and full participation of all people, especially in the workplace, including populations who have historically been underrepresented or subject to discrimination because of their background, identity, disability, etc

Doomscrolling n. the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle

Supposably adv. as may be assumed, imagined, or supposed

Y’all pron. you (used in direct address usually to two or more people, or to one person who represents a family, organization, etc)

Yeet excl. slang an exclamation of excitement, approval, surprise, or all-around energy, often as issued when doing a dance move or throwing something.

Zaddy n. slang an attractive man who is also stylish, charming, and self-confident

Dictionary additions 2021: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Merriam-Webster added almost 1,000 words and phrases to its dictionary in 2021. These are some of the highlights.

Air fryer n. an airtight, usually small electrical appliance for quick cooking of foods by means of convection currents circulated rapidly by a fan

Amirite interj. slang used in writing for ‘am I right’ to represent or imitate the use of this phrase as a tag question in informal speech

ASMR n. a pleasant tingling sensation that originates on the back of the scalp and often spreads to the neck and upper spine, that occurs in some people in response to a stimulus (such as a particular kind of sound or movement), and that tends to have a calming effect

BIPOC abbr. Black, Indigenious, (and) People of Color

Bit rot n. the tendency for digital information to degrade or become unusable over time

Copypasta n. data (such as a block of text) that has been copied and spread widely online

Dad bod n. a physique regarded as typical of an average father, esp one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular

Deplatform v. to remove and ban (a registered user) from a mass communication medium (such as a social networking or blogging website)

Crowdfunding n. the practice of obtaining needed funding (as for a new business) by soliciting contributions from a large number of people especially from the online community

Digital nomad n. someone who performs their occupation entirely over the Internet while traveling, esp such a person who has no permanent fixed home address.

Flex n. an act of bragging or showing off

Fluffernutter n. a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow crème between two slices of white sandwich bread

Folx pl. n. folks, used esp to explicitly signal the inclusion of groups commonly marginalized

Hard pass n. a firm refusal or rejection of something (such as an offer)

Horchata n. a cold sweetened beverage made from ground rice or almonds and usually flavorings such as cinnamon or vanilla

Hygge n. a cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable

Otaku n. a person having an intense or obsessive interest especially in the fields of anime and manga

Super-spreader n. an individual who is highly contagious and capable of transmitting a communicable disease to an unusually large number of uninfected individuals; an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease

Vaccine passport n. a physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination against one or more infectious diseases (such as COVID-19)

Whataboutism n. the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by another is similar or worse

Dictionary additions 2021: Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford University Press added around 750 words and phrases to its dictionary in 2021. These are some of the highlights.

Birdo n. a birdwatcher

Boomeranger n. a person who throws a boomerang

Blockchain n. a sequence of digital records or ‘blocks’ linked using cryptography so that each block is verifiable and virtually unchangeable, which is distributed and managed typically in a peer-to-peer network, and used esp by cryptocurrencies as a record of transactions; the technology underpinning this

Comfort eat v. to consume food in an attempt to alleviate feelings of anxiety, boredom, negativity, etc, rather than to satisfy hunger, typically large quantities of food with a high sugar or fat content

Dine-and-dasher n. a person who hastily or furtively leaves a restaurant, cafe, etc, to avoid paying for his or her meal

Gen Z n. the generation of people born between the late 1990s and early 2010s and following Generation Y, noted in particular as the first generation to grow up in the era of widespread use of digital technology (esp the internet and social media)

Innerwear n. clothing designed to be worn under other garments, esp next to the skin

Non-fungible adj. of a product or commodity that has been contracted for: that cannot be replaced by another identical item without breaking the terms of the contract. More generally: not interchangeable or replaceable

Tots n. bite-sized croquettes of shredded potato, fried or baked and typically served hot as a side dish

Wabi-sabi adj. relating to or designating a Japanese aesthetic or world view characterized by finding beauty in imperfection, impermanence, or simplicity; designating a style, appearance, etc, reflecting this aesthetic

Xennial n. a person born between the late 1970s and early 1980s, after (or towards the end of) Generation X and before (or at the beginning of) the millennial generation, and typically regarded as exhibiting characteristics of both of these generations

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