"Hashtag" is one of 5,000 new words included in a dictionary update for Scrabble
It's been about a decade since the last time an official Scrabble dictionary was released, and in terms of technology, you might as well be talking about a century. Well, here's some good news for all you geeky wordsmiths who've grown tired of being challenged for playing the word "texter" and other tech terms -- Merriam-Webster is getting ready to release the Fifth Edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary with 5,000 new words.
For those of you who own the latest version of The Oxford English Dictionary, you might want to consider tucking it away in a safe place. Generations from now, it could become quite the collection piece as the last print version publisher Oxford University Press ever put out.
While nothing has yet been set in stone, Oxford University Press has to decide whether it makes sense to continuing putting out a print version when the digital version is doing so well.
"At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the online product," a statement from the publisher said. "However, a print version will certainly be considered if there is sufficient demand at the time of publication."
Weighing heavily on the publisher's mind is that the digital version, which runs $295 a year in the U.S., currently rakes in two million hits a month from subscribers. By comparison, the 20-volume print edition set published in 1989 has sold only 30,000 sets total.
It’s nothing new, mind you. A Google search for a word preceded by the term: “define:” pretty much accomplishes the same thing. But, the definitions in dictionary are more extensive, and come with related phrases and web definitions. Web definitions both support and extend the initial definition.
The word “hack”, for example, comes with the standard defintion: “you cut with strong, rough strokes.” The related phrase: “hack off”. And the web definitions: one who works hard at boring tasks; the inability to deal with something; a machine politician; and piecemeal fixing a computer program until it works.
Precision, however, isn’t Google’s dictionary forte. Owner of Paragon Software, Alex Zudin, who works on dictionaries with Merriam-Webster and Oxford, says Google’s effort is okay for the “low-level consumer market.” Serious wordsmiths, however, will want to opt for a real dictionary.
All-in-all it seems just like another brick in the wall--to keep you trapped inside the Google plantation. All your needs, no matter how trivial, are being met, so why go elsewhere?
Christine Lindberg, a Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program says the word “has both currency and potential longevity. Lindberg notes “most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!).” Unable to resist the pun, Lindberg adds: “Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”
Other new technology-generated words in competition for the award were “hashtag,” “intexticated,” “netbook,” “paywall,” and “sexting.”
Last year several geek-inspired words made it into the latest version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, including 'webinar', 'netroots', 'pretexting', 'fanboy', and 'malware'. Whether Merriam-Webster choose to recognize it or not, 'noob' might soon become a real English term as well, as determined by the Global Language Monitor (GLM).
"The widespread popularity of English as a second language in Asia has brought about the most fertile period of word generation since William Shakespeare's time with new terms coined on average every 98 minutes, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reports.
It takes using a word 25,000 times by media outlets and social networking sites for the GLM to acknowledge it, and the race is on to become the one millionth English word. Other possible entries include 'defollow,' 'defriend,' 'greenwashing,' 'and chiconomics.'
He revealed that he successfully gained access to the account of a female Twitter staffer named “Crystal.” He had serendipitously stumbled upon her account and had no idea that she was a Twitter staff member with administrative control. He then proceeded to hack her account using a dictionary attack.
The program didn’t have to break a sweat as she was using the password “happiness.” Her flimsy password coupled with Twitter’s primeval security, which allows rapid-fire log-in attempts, led to several high profile Twitter accounts, including the ones belonging to President-elect Barack Obama and Fox News, being compromised.
"At one point during the webinar, 'W00ts!' were heard emanating from the conference room as Harry, a renowned Team Fortress 2 fanboy, demonstrated how to properly tea-bag an opponent."
Most English teachers would have a field day with the above sentence, but with the exception of 'tea-bag,' the rest of the terms are now officially recognized. Perhaps Merriam-Webster is undergoing a mid-life crisis, or maybe as geeks we've leveled up our ability to affect the English language. Either way, a bevy of new terms are being added to the latest version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, and many of them could be pulled straight out of any computer forum. Among the new terms are:
Not all the new words are technology terms, but many of them do reflect societal trends. "As soon as we see the word used without explanation or translation or gloss, we consider it a naturalized citizen of the English language," explained Peter Sokolowoski, an editor-at-large for Merriam Webster.
Find how how you can further influence Merriam-Webster after the jump.