I have a raggedy-looking dictionary near my desk, Webster’s New World Dictionary, published in 1988.
I’ve had it since we owned a bookstore, probably bought it at a nice discount (not nice enough, obviously, or we’d still have a bookstore).
You will note that I bought it in 1988. Back then, who knew about the internet? Who knew about iPhones and Kindles? Who knew about Facebook or, God help us, Twitter?
Not me, not you and not even Webster’s, which has been struggling for years to catch up.
Every year, Webster’s (now Merriam-Webster) adds a crop of new words, and every year, I am embarrassed by my lack of current lingo, technical as well as cultural.
How bad is it? Just Friday I learned about something called TED Talks from a CBS broadcast.
TED, my learned wife instructed, means Technology, Entertainment and Design and is an internet series of talks that are supposed to inspire new ideas.
She knew all about it, but never once did she share this particular knowledge with me. I had to Google it to learn that TED has been a thing since 1984. See how backward I am? I’ve been in the dark for nearly 35 years.
Anyway, Webster’s added 840 new words this year and once again has made me ashamed of my ignorance. Here’s a few of the newbies:
Airplane mode. I’ve seen this dozens of times, but never knew what it meant. Webster’s now tells me it is an operating mode for electronic devices that does not connect to the internet and cannot send or receive communications but can be used for other functions. OK. Thanks, Webbie.
Fave. This is not a Hall of Fame quarterback — that’s called a Favre — but a short version of “favorite.” Webster’s is catching up here because the word has been around, I learned, since 1938. Get with it, Webbie.
Adorbs. This is another shortened word for “adorable.” Why do words have to be shortened? Hey, it’s a fast-paced world. Who has time for an entire word?
Zoodle. Seriously, does this really belong in a dictionary? It appears to be what someone somewhere once called a thin strip of zucchini that looked like a string of pasta. At least that’s how Webster’s defines it. But if you ever hear me say “zoodle,” hit me. Please.
Hangry. Another catch-up word. People have been using “hangry” to blame their anger on hunger since the ‘50s. Last time I heard it was from Olympian Chloe Kim. I forget why.
Mocktail. An iced drink that does not contain alcohol — and not to be confused with a mocktini, which is a martini that does not contain vermouth. Some call them appletinis.
Well, enough. It’s becoming clear that my 1988 Webster’s New World Dictionary is as outdated as I am.
Maybe I’ll have to turn to spellcheck for future columns. Wonder how that works.