More geek speak hits Merriam-Webster


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

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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