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Dictionary Updates for 2018

Don Rose 5 January 2018 No Comment

Among the traditional year-end look-backs, dictionaries and other word watchers have been identifying a “word of the year.” Some choose new, made-up words, other select on the basis of widespread usage. Oxford Dictionaries nominated the unlikely “youthquake.” Dictionaries.com selected “complicit,” quite on target, as was Merriam-Webster’s choice, “feminism”–an oldie but goodie.


  I, being more verbose, have selected seven, primarily political, one of them brand new, five others in much wider use during 2017 than previous years–and one archaic. They are listed here more or less in order of importance to our world today:

#MeToo –Can anyone deny this handle heralds the most significant social movement of the year? It may even be a societal  turning point. Thanks (I suppose) to the Harvey Weinstein revelations for kicking it all off. And to all the brave women who made it a genuine movement.

Collude–The verb form of course of “collusion,” which was not used very often before late 2016, but it’s inescapable these days, whether affirming or denying that it played a role in the 2016 election. As noted several times here, colluding is not a crime, but it’s big sister, “conspiracy,” is–and that could become the 2018 word of the year.

Weaponize–In this sharply divided, partisan political world, it seems everything has become “weaponized.” Words are weaponized. Websites are weaponized. Hearings are weaponized. Stolen emails are weaponized. Dossiers are weaponized. I even heard one dummy babbling on cable that North Korea has weaponized its nuclear armaments. Imagine–even weapons are being weaponized these days.

Tweet–Need I say more?

Lie/Liar–Yes,  words in constant use through the years but not since Bill Clinton’s cohort admonished us that everyone lies about sex (and tried to redefine exactly what was and was not sex) has the word been in such widespread usage–weaponized, so to speak. The media heroically strain to separate a lie from an “error” or “falsehood” or “mis-statement” but are still able to quantify actual lies by the new world champion liar. Dishonorable mention here goes to Kellyanne Conway’s invention “alternative facts.”

Believe me–Sure sign of a lie–or mis-statement, like when Bill Clinton used to put his hand over his heart.

Dotard–Hats off to anyone who knew this word before North Korea’s English-speaking lexicographers taught it to us. It is, we learned, a late Middle-English word meaning “an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.”  Can’t recall who they were talking about–maybe I’ve become a dotard myself.

Looking forward to this new year’s new words, may I take a few more words to wish you all the best for 2018.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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