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Merriam Webster adds definitions for 'breakthrough,' 'whataboutism,' others

By Jake Thomas
Merriam Webster adds definitions for 'breakthrough,' 'whataboutism,' others
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. Photo by Daniel Tak/Flickr

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- As the times change, so does the dictionary. Merriam-Webster has added definitions for 455 new words such as "breakthrough," "whataboutism," "dad bod" and others that have generated headlines and discussion.

The definitions, added Friday, reflect the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its recent developments. The widely used dictionary added, "vaccine passport" to refer to a physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or other infectious diseases. "Breakthrough" is an infection in someone fully vaccinated against an infectious disease.

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In politics, "whataboutism" is a response to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offense committed by someone else is just as bad or worse. Merriam-Webster also defined "astroturf," a figurative term to describe political campaigns that appear grassroots but are instead supported by powerful interests.

"Just as the language never stops evolving, the dictionary never stops expanding," a Merriam-Webster statement read. "New terms and new uses for existing terms are the constant in a living language, and our latest list brings together both new and likely familiar words that have shown extensive and established use."

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Merriam-Webster added definitions for other words that have become increasingly used.

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They include "doorbell camera," a small camera designed for an exterior connected to the doorbell and often has a microphone or speaker. A "dad bod" is the physique of the typical father that's often slightly overweight and not very muscular. A "fourth trimester" is the three-month period immediately following childbirth where a mother recovers and adjusts to caring for her infant.

The updates also extended to new foods and cooking methods. A "ghost kitchen" is a commercial facility where food is prepared for off-premise consumption. A "fluffernutter" is a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich made with white bread, and "chicharron" is a piece of fried pork belly or skin usually eaten as a snack.

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Online communications have "contributed to a vocabulary newly rich in efficient and abbreviated expression" Merriam-Webster said in its update. The dictionary now includes definitions for "TBH," an abbreviation for "to be honest," and "deplatform," removing someone from social media or other communication means.

The internet has also created new definitions for long-established words. The updated definition of "because" now includes how the word is used to humorously express the vagueness about the exact reason for something.

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