Kory Stamper, author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries describes three criteria Merriam-Webster uses for inclusion of words like truther, binge-watch, photobomb and the 1,000 other words that make the cut in a typical year.
The first is widespread use, which means a word needs to be used all over the place and in all sorts of different kinds of places. So if a word is used in VIBE magazine and The Wall Street Journal, that's widespread use. Or if a word is used in California and then it's used in South Africa, that's widespread use.
[The] second is sustained use. So a word needs to actually have kind of a long shelf life, because most words come into the language and either don't have much written use for a long time, or they have a lot of written use and then they drop out [of] use for 10 or 20 years. So we like to see some sustained usage, to make sure that it's sort of settled into the language.
Then the third criterion is meaningful use, which means the word has to have a meaning, which sounds patently ridiculous, but there are a handful of words that show up in print that just don't have a lexical meaning.
And if you're not following Merriam-Webster's Trump trolling on Twitter, you should get on it!
• Kory Stamper (YouTube / 20th & Vine) via Free Library of Philadelphia
Last night’s kick-off event for the UK Walkaway tour was brilliant, thanks to the magic combination of the excellent Tim Harford, the excellent people of Oxford, and the excellent booksellers at Blackwells.
Fantastic Fiction at KGB is a monthly reading series hosted by Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, held on the third Wednesday of every month at the famous KGB Bar in Manhattan. They are looking to fund several more years of their popular reading series via a Kickstarter fundraiser, running from May 17th through June 14th, […]
The Science Fiction Writers of America have announced the 2017 Nebula Award winners, including two of my favorite books of 2016: Charlie Jane Anders’s wonderful debut All the Birds in the Sky and Seanan McGuire’s outstanding novella, Every Heart a Doorway.
Yes, yes there is. The ultraportable Twisty Glass Mini boasts all of the simplicity of its forebear, while fitting just a little bit better in your pocket.The Mini is perfect for casual smokers, and anyone who doesn’t have the patience or fine motor skill for rolling papers. This piece keeps the convenient design of its older […]
Learning to code is a perfect way to grow your technical sophistication, and open up a host of new career options. But since most “learn to code” initiatives focus heavily on web development, it can be tough to find good resources for general-purpose computer science outside of a 4-year degree program. To get a broad […]
While many newer smartphones boast decent water resistance, most of us are still stuck with the kind of handsets that need to spend the night in a bowl of rice when they get wet. If you want to enjoy your favorite podcasts in the shower but are holding out for your next phone upgrade, this […]