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Merriam-Webster adds a bunch of food words—and maybe-not-words—to dictionary

Illustration for article titled Merriam-Webster adds a bunch of food words—em/emand maybe-not-words—em/emto dictionary
Photo: noipornpan (iStock)

Merriam-Webster suspects some of you might not be thrilled about the addition of “marg” and “guac” to the online dictionary. Its editors know you’re clutching your pearls as you cry “But those aren’t even words!” So the dictionary company has headed off your criticism with this line in its announcement of the new additions: “The addition of new words to a dictionary is a step in the continuous process of recording our ever-expanding language.…The dictionary’s job is to report usage as it enters the general vocabulary.”

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So there. People say and write “guac” and “marg” and “hangry” and “zoodles” and now all of those glorious little globs of letters are part of Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Food words represent a large chunk of the 840-plus new entries, and include other items like “mise en place, the French term used in restaurants for the positioning of ingredients in the kitchen before cooking” and “iftar, the meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break the daily fast during Ramadan.” Seriously, iftar wasn’t already in the dictionary?

In her delightful book Word By Word: The Secret Life Of Dictionaries, dictionary editor Kory Stamper explains our language thus: “We think of English as a fortress to be defended, but a better analogy is to think of English as a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don’t want it to go: it heads right for the goddamn electrical sockets.”

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That electrical socket, in this case, is “avo,” (now also an official M-W entry), an abbreviated form of avocado that I, despite knowing language is a fluid, socially constructed river, just cannot get behind. What I can get behind: “hophead” (a fan of hop-dominant beers like IPAs) is now an official entry. As is TL;DR.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

Hmmm both marg and guac are delish.