‘Air fryer’ and ‘dad bod’ added to dictionary for 2021

Nov 13, 2021
Our addiction to Air Fryers has just earned them a place in the 2021 dictionary update for Merriam-Webster. Source: Getty

Too many fluffernutters will give you a dad bod, amirite?

If the above sentence reads like gibberish to you, spare a thought for the busy bees at the new words department of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, whose job it is to keep pace with the ever-changing English language

The American publisher  recently added 455 new words to its dictionary, as part of its October update. Among them were novel new concepts and phrases such as “air fryer”, “dad bod”, and “fluffernutter”, that have reportedly wormed their way into our every day lexicon and lives. 

A fluffernutter, in case you’re asking, is “a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow crème between two slices of white sandwich bread”; while a dad bod is officially defined by Merriam-Webster as “a physique regarded as typical of an average father, especially one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular”.

These words, and many others like them that made the round-up, might be considered as slang terms. But they’re heavily used in our online conversations, according to the publisher, and thus have earned a legitimate place on the list.

The publisher explains: “just as the language never stops evolving, the dictionary never stops expanding”. 

The quick and informal nature of texting and online messaging has surged during the pandemic. Which has given rise to a new, shortened vocabulary, with new entries such as “tbh” (to be honest) and “copypasta” (data -such as a block of text – that has been copied and spread widely online).

Also reflecting our pandemic era, are new additions that we’ve become all too familiar with, such as “super-spreader” and “long-Covid”. 

The dictionary publisher has grouped the new words into different categories: from online culture and communications, coronavirus, pop culture, politics and food. 

Another new concept that has become increasingly relevant to the English-speaking world is “deplatform”. Perhaps that’s thanks to former US President Trump and his social media ban in the wake of his role in inciting violent protests at the White House during the last presidential elections. According to Merriam-Webster, the word means “to remove and ban (a registered user) from a mass communication medium (such as a social networking or blogging website) broadly : to prevent from having or providing a platform to communicate.”

And while food terms like “chicharron” and “horchata” may not be new to some, there is still an abundance of odd words added in. 

Some of the more unusual inclusions include:

FTW – an abbreviation for “for the win” – used especially to express approval or support.

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

Oobleck- a mixture of cornstarch and water that behaves like a liquid when at rest and like a solid when pressure is applied. 

Merriam- Webster has been publishing dictionaries since 1831 and adds new words based on their usage and frequency. 

“Each day most Merriam-Webster editors devote an hour or two to reading a cross section of published material,” explains the influential dictionary company. “The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms–in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary.”

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