August 27, 2011

What Is A ‘Tweet’? Now You Can Look It Up!


Log on to Twitter and spread the news--"tweet" has been added to the dictionary!

"Used as both a noun and a verb, the word describing a post made on the online Twitter message service is among more than 100 new terms revealed Thursday" by the Massachusetts-based publishers of the American version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Stephanie Reitz of the Associated Press reported in an article on Friday.

"Even if people had no interest or possible chance of getting a Twitter account themselves, they now have to know what 'tweet' means, and that's really why it's in the dictionary," Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, told Reitz. "It's not just because the users of that service are so numerous, although they are. It's because even the non-users have to know what that word means because they'll encounter it so often in everyday use."

Molly O'Toole of Reuters notes that a total of 150 new words were added to the 2011 version of the dictionary. Among them are "social media-influenced terms like 'crowdsourcing,' which is 'the practice of obtaining information from a large group of people who contribute online,' “¦ pop culture-informed words such as 'bromance' -- a "close, nonsexual friendship between men' and a new definition for 'cougar' -- a 'middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man.'"

In the world of sports, new terminology added to the dictionary's pages include "parkour" (an athletic feat that involves gracefully running, leaping, and climbing over obstacles), "walk-off" (a baseball term used to describe a hit or home-run that allows the game-winning run to score in the bottom of the final inning), and "duathlon" (which O'Toole describes as "a three-part long-distance race where competitors run, bike, and run").

Other terms officially recognized by Merriam-Webster's editors this year include "helicopter parent" (a mother or father who is heavily involved with the life of his or her child/children, tending to hover over them like a helicopter), "boomerang child" (an adult child who returns to live at home with his or her parents at an advanced age), "fist bump" (a greeting or expression of enthusiasm similar to a high-five), and m-commerce ("business transactions conducted by using a mobile device," says Reitz).

"How does a word enter what Merriam-Webster says is the best-selling U.S. dictionary? 'The answer is simple: usage,' according to Merriam-Webster," O'Toole writes. "Editors devote hours each day to monitoring which words people use most often and how they use them in books, newspapers, magazines and electronic publications."


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