Good news for both linguistic completionists and basic lexical slacktivists: Dictionary.com added dozens of new words to its database Wednesday, many of which reflect changes in technology and changing attitudes toward gender and sexuality.
Unsurprisingly, computers seem to have been the inspiration for many of the added words, including “haptics” (“the study or use of tactile sensations and the sense of touch as a method of interacting with computers and electronic devices”), “blackhat” (“a hacker who violates the security of a system for personal profit or for the gratification of causing damage”) and “dox” (“to publish the private personal information of [another person] without the consent of that individual”).
The increasingly popular world of video gaming is responsible for a few of the added entries. The website definies “completionist” as “a player who attempts to complete every challenge and earn every achievement or trophy in a video game,” and “permadeath” -- which sounds terrifying -- as “the permanent death of a defeated character, after which the player of the game cannot continue with the same character.”
Sociological changes are reflected in many of the additions, including terms such as “agender,” “bigender,” and “gender-fluid,” the last of whose definition reads, “relating to a person whose gender identity or gender expression is not fixed and shifts over time or depending on the situation.”
Not all of those social changes are positive, though. New entries also include the unflattering “slacktivism” (“actions taken to bring about political or social change but requiring only minimal commitment, effort, or risk”), and the depressing “revenge porn” (“sexually suggestive images of someone, typically a former romantic partner, that are posted online or shared without the person’s consent”).
Dictionary.com, which claims to be “the world’s leading and most definitive online dictionary,” licenses some of its definitions from print volumes such as American Heritage and Random House. Many consider it a valuable basic source for all things linguistic. (That’s “basic” as in “fundamental,” not in the new sense of “characterized by predictable or unoriginal style, interests, or behavior.”)
Other new additions include:
astroturfing: the deceptive tactic of simulating grass-roots support for a cause
dark web: the portion of the Internet that is intentionally hidden from search engines, uses masked IP addresses, and is accessible only with a special Web browser
lifehack: a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing a day-to-day task or activity
microaggression: a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype
ship: to take an interest in a romantic relationship between fictional characters or famous people