During last year’s presidential debates, and through this year’s inauguration, Merriam-Webster has been an active presence on Twitter, sharing words experiencing an uptick in search, or funny, relevant trivia.
You might even say the dictionary provided a safe space on social media, or “a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations.”
It’s fitting, then, that “safe space” is among the 1,000 new additions Merriam-Webster made to its online dictionary today. The word was first used in 1970, and has been used by colleges post-election to describe themselves as campuses that will protect students who might feel in danger due to their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, race or gender.
Not all of the added words have been around for decades. Some of them, like “binge-watch” and “photobomb,” are products of newer technologies, but saw big spikes in recent use.
In an announcement, Merriam-Webster explained its methodology: “In some cases, terms have been observed for years and are finally being added; in others, the fast rise and broad acceptance of a term has made for a quicker journey.”
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Merriam-Webster’s editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski added that the words announced today were added to the dictionary’s digital pages. “The online dictionary gives us both more space to expand entries and a way to add them more quickly,” he said.
Other entries are updates of pre-existing words, such as “ghost” used as an informal verb, and “train wreck” used metaphorically to describe “an utter disaster or mess.”
The new additions come from medicine, sports, literature, fashion, politics and technology. One even comes from the name of a prolific word inventor ― “Seussian,” meaning “suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss.”