December 27, 2016

Hello Goodbye

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

Every year, more than 1,000 words are added to the English dictionary. In 2016 alone, roughly 2,000 new entries were deemed worthy of inclusion.

With that many definitions expanding the pages of Merriam-Webster and Oxfords's already hefty references, one might think these books would have become bigger than the desks they sit on. But that is offset to some degree by eliminating other words that have become outdated.  For example, when was the last time you used a nephoscope (to study the movement of clouds) or called someone a snollygoster (a shrewd person with no principles)?

And so, out with the old, in with the new.  I know you're curious, so here are some of the recent terms that have made the cut:

(an acronym for "fear of missing out")

(an acronym for "you only live once")

(frozen yogurt)

(too much information)

(a webpage that lures you in with a false pretense, such as "You won't believe what Ann-Margaret looks like now!")

Other new words include:




Huh?  By now you may be thinking you're reading a blog post from the last century, since we've been hearing and using some of those words for decades.  Why, all of a sudden, are they just now becoming official?  Part of it has to do with the billions of words written every year that are analyzed by databases and narrowed down as the most used by professional word nerds who spend their working lives making these very decisions.  I would find it exhausting, and think they should all be treated to fro-yo.

Fans of Roald Dahl will be glad to know that Oompa Loompa and scrumdiddlyumptious are now part of the English language. Vermiciouis knids, however, will have to wait until the next remake of Willy Wonka.

But here's a new entry specifically related to books and writing:

Urban Fantasy
(a genre of imaginative fiction featuring supernatural characters or elements in an urban setting; also : a work of urban fantasy)

Ever on the lookout for a million-dollar idea, I plan to create a genre called Suburban Fantasy, in which magical things happen to our yards and leaves no longer need raking.

You may or may not find a use for some of the above words, especially the trendier ones which come and go.  I doubt readers in 100 years will regard novels with an abundance of "YOLO" and "TMI" to be the work of unsung Hemingways.  But who are we to argue with Merriam or Webster?

Just as we said hello to some new words in 2016, we also said goodbye to some old friends. I'd like to end my last blog post of the year with my video tribute to some of those who, through their various artistic talents, have entertained and often inspired us. (video updated on January 1st, 2017)

Happy New Year, and may you have an endless supply of pure imagination in 2017.

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