The dictionary got swole in 2019 with the addition of a ton of new words that stem from the ever-increasing pace of technology, changes in social constructs and how we relate to one another, and new compound terms, plus changes in the meanings of words as they evolve through usage. To keep you from having to read the dictionary to catch up on the latest buzzy terminology, here are a selection of the latest phrases being used.
Just because a word has been added to the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s new to that year, it just means that the use is significant enough that it’s gained traction in society.
Business in the late 2010s is changing rapidly; remember a time when there wasn’t a ride-sharing app installed on your phone? In fact, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are a prime example of the new gig economy, which refers to economic activities that involve the use of temporary or freelance workers to perform jobs, typically in the service sector. This also includes many delivery driver services, along with platforms like Upwork and TaskRabbit, where people are hired and paid for singular tasks with no expectation of regular work.
Social terms are becoming much more inclusive with the sweeping changes being made in gender politics throughout the world. Top surgery and bottom surgery are no longer just whispered colloquialisms to refer to the different types of gender reassignment surgery that people can undergo to make their body better match their gender identity, but are officially recognized procedures in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary.
Latinx was also added this year to be inclusive both culturally and gender-wise for people of Hispanic descent who do not wish to identify as Latina or Latino, which are gendered words.
New terms can also indicate changes in both word meaning and perhaps are a hint of how society needs to change as well. Unplug used to mean removing an electrical plug from an electric outlet, but it now means to take time away from the neverending carousel of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. This can give people a much needed break from screen time, or how much time they spend in front of screens, be it a computer, phone, tablet, or television. Screen time used to mean how much time an actor got on the screen, whether that be television or the movies.
Then there are the fun additions like buzzy, which is an adjective used to describe something that is being talked about a lot, or generating buzz, as in “That new movie is buzzy, everyone at the office is talking about it!”
Swole is another fun word that means swollen, but also more commonly is in reference to a muscular person, as in, “I just completed a six-week weightlifting program and am so swole.” You can also use it to imply that you will soon be very muscular, as in “I’m gonna get swole after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, bro.”
The great thing about the dictionary officially recognizing new words is watching the evolution of the English language as it flexes with society to encapsulate the need for new words. Plus, it helps to have even more words to choose from when playing Words with Friends or any other word-based games!