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More geek speak hits Merriam-Webster

By / July 7, 2008

Newscom

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Geeks are big on making up words. We create (phishing), truncate (lol), appropriate (spam), and verbinate (just google it) new jargon all the time.

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Much like with “verbinate,” these words aren’t always recognized by the powers at Merriam-Webster. But, each year, the dictionary company acknowledges about 100 new words that most people have been using for years. Today the lexicographers announced 2008’s list. Webster welcomed several sci/tech terms to the English language this year. Among them:

Dark energy (traced back to 1998): hypothetical form of energy that produces a force that opposes gravity and is thought to cause the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Dwarf planet (1993): celestial body that orbits the sun and has a spherical shape, but is too small to disturb other objects from its orbit. (They were a bit late on this one. The correct term is now Plutoid.)

Fanboy (1919): someone who is an enthusiastic devotee, such as of comics, movies, or Friday’s release of the iPhone 3G.

Malware (1990): software designed to interfere with a computer’s normal functioning.

Netroots (2003): grassroots political activists who communicate via the Internet, especially by blogs.

Pretexting (1992): presenting oneself as someone else to obtain private information. (I had never heard of this term before 2006’s HP investigation.)

Webinar (1998): live, online educational presentation during which participating viewers can submit questions and comments.

Check out USA Today for a longer list, including the non-geeky edamame, jukebox musical, and kiteboarding.

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