Dictionary book

Publishers add 455 new words to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary: NPR

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has added over 400 new words and definitions, including fluffernutter, daddy bod and vaccine passport.


Are there too many fluffernutters giving you a daddy body?


No. What did you hear?

KING: (Laughs).

MARTINEZ: Do your vote-a-rama sessions always descend into whataboutism?

KING: If these questions don’t make sense, don’t worry. You can look up these words in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. They added 455 new words and definitions this month.

MARTINEZ: Peter Sokolowski is the editor of Merriam-Webster.

PETER SOKOLOWSKI: The most fun part of the job is noticing new vocabulary and then watching it grow. We don’t want to add a term that might fall out of use. We need a lot of proof.

MARTINEZ: Some words, however, had an immediate impact, like the ones we experienced during the pandemic.

SOKOLOWSKI: In this case, we have new meanings of existing terms like breakthrough, as in breakthrough infection.


ALLISON AUBREY, PER LINE: …Risk of getting a breakthrough infection that…

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: …Might have a breakthrough infection.

ANTHONY FAUCI: …had a breakthrough infection.

SOKOLOWSKI: And the super-spreader.


TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: It turned into a superspreader event.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: …of a superspreading event that happened…

SOKOLOWSKI: Which we had defined in reference to an individual who spreads a disease within a population. But now it refers, of course, to events or places responsible for spreading the disease.

KING: Some words have been around for decades, like fluffernutter. Go on.

SOKOLOWSKI: It refers to a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Singing) First you spread, spread, spread your bread with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff and you have a fluffernutter.

SOKOLOWSKI: It’s a bit of a regional term, and maybe that’s why it’s new to a lot of people. This is not new to me as I grew up in New England.

MARTINEZ: And that’s where the daddy bod comes in.

KING: (Laughs).

MARTINEZ: Now more food is entering the Merriam-Webster lexicon, this time borrowed from Spanish. And I can’t believe it took so long to include the creamy horchata drink and the crispy pork chicharron.

SOKOLOWSKI: English has a voracious appetite for words from other languages. And the tongue has this elastic ability to grow.

KING: Just a few others as evidence of this growth – deplatform, Oobleck, faux-hawk, bit rot. If you don’t know what they mean, you can now look them up.


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