April 23 (UPI) -- "Gig economy," "stan," "gender nonconfirming" and "snowflake" are among the 640 new words and meanings Merriam-Webster added to its dictionary this year, the publication announced Tuesday.
As happens throughout the history of language, some existing words took on new meanings this year.
"New meanings of existing words make for a particularly fascinating category," Merriam-Webster said in its announcement. "We seem to watch the language change before our eyes as we record these senses."
New to that category this year were: "snowflake," referring to someone who is special or overly sensitive; "purple," referring to a geographical area of mixed political ideology; "tailwind" and "headwind," referring to figurative forces that influence progress; "peak," referring to the height of popularity; and "Goldilocks," metaphorically referring to a planet that is neither too hot or too cold to support life.
New compound terms were added this year, too. "Page view" is an instance of a user viewing an individual web page. "Garbage time" is the final minutes of a game in which one opponent has an insurmountable lead. And "screen time" is the amount of time someone spends viewing a screen.
In the fields of science and medicine, new words reflect growing discussions of gender and transgender issues. "Gender nonconforming" is when an individual exhibits traits not typically associated with their birth sex. "Top surgery" and "bottom surgery" refer to types of gender confirmation surgeries.
In business, "gig economy" refers to freelance or temporary jobs and "vulture capitalism" refers to aggressive methods to buy distressed companies with the intention of selling them.
New entertainment and cultural words include "EGOT," the rare achievement of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award and "stan," obsession over a character or celebrity.
"The work of revising a dictionary is constant, and it mirrors the culture's need to make sense of the world with words," Merriam-Webster said. "There are always new things to be named and new uses for existing words to be explained.
"A release of new words is also a map of the workings of a dictionary -- you get to see what we've been up to -- and of how words from different contexts come to reside in the same place."