Public Relations Tactics

Many New Words in Dictionary Refer to Technology’s Impact on People

May 29, 2014

“Tweep,” “catfish” and “gamification” are among more than 150 new words and definitions in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for 2014.

“Tweep” is defined as a person who uses Twitter to send and receive tweets, while “catfish” refers to someone who sets up a false and deceptive social-networking profile. “Gamification” means adding games to a task to encourage people to participate.

Many of the new additions reflect the growing influence of technology on human endeavors, especially on social networking, which mostly used to take place in person.

Another new word, “crowdfunding” — which means soliciting money from a large number of people online to finance a project — also illustrates how technology is being used to understand and motivate behavior.

“So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, said when announcing the additions on May 19. “‘Tweep,’ ‘selfie,’ and ‘hashtag’ refer to the ways we communicate and share as individuals. Words like ‘crowdfunding,’ ‘gamification,’ and ‘big data’ show that the Internet has changed business in profound ways.”

Other notable additions include “freegan” (an activist who scavenges food from the garbage bins of grocery stores and restaurants, ostensibly to reduce overall consumption of resources), “fracking” (short for hydraulic fracturing — the practice of injecting high-pressure water and chemicals into shale beds to release oil and natural gas), and “Yooper,” a nickname for a native or resident of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  — Greg Beaubien



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