The definitive online dictionary, Merriam-Webster, just added 690 new words for September 2023 and many of the new entries hail from the worlds of entertainment and sports.
It's fitting that the company made the announcement in Springfield, Massachusetts, because in the very first line of their press release they offer the tongue-in-cheek rejoinder that “today Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 690 new words and meanings to its iconic dictionary–a perfectly cromulent list.”
Cromulent, one of the more popular newly legitimate words, is a reference from an early classic episode of The Simpsons. In a scene at Springfield Elementary School, fourth-grade teacher Edna Krabappel, the fourth-grade teacher, is speaking with second-grade teacher Elizabeth Hoover and remarks, “‘Embiggens'? Hm, I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield.” Hoover then responds, “I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” From there, the word took on a life of its own and is now officially in the dictionary.
The official definition reads “cromulent — adjective, informal + humorous : acceptable, satisfactory.”
The Star Wars universe, meanwhile, gave birth to the new Merriam-Webster term of padawan, which is defined as “(noun, informal) : a young person especially when regarded as naïve, inexperienced, etc.” Padawan, in the Star Wars universe, refers to a young future Jedi in training with a more experienced Jedi Knight or Jedi Master, usually donning a Padawan braid to denote their status.
Marshawn Lynch, meanwhile, made the list for his catch-all nickname Beast Mode, which has taken on a life of its own since his NFL heyday and has been used to refer to any number of athletes (or entertainers for that matter) assuming a certain type of game face and intensity. Or, as Merriam-Webster puts it, beast mode is a slang noun meaning, “an extremely aggressive or energetic style or manner that someone (such as an athlete) adopts temporarily (as to overpower an opponent in a fight or competition).”
March Madness got its own shoutout with the inclusion of bracketology to the lexicon. It's defined as “the practice or study of predicting the outcome of elimination tournaments or competitions especially in NCAA college basketball.”
Pro wrestling fans got in the mix too with new entry, kayfabe. It's a noun that boasts two potential definitions: “1 : the tacit agreement between professional wrestlers and their fans to pretend that overtly staged wrestling events, stories, characters, etc., are genuine; broadly : tacit agreement to behave as if something is real, sincere, or genuine when it is not 2 : the playacting involved in maintaining kayfabe.”
Merriam-Webster definitely had some fun making this list. Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski said, “We’re very excited by this new batch of words. We hope there is as much insight and satisfaction in reading them as we got from defining them.”
Well rest assured, Mr. Sokolowski. Thinking about a bunch of bookish Merriam-Webster professor types sitting around trying to define “thirst trap” certainly brought satisfaction to at least this reader.