"Woot," "Malware," "Fanboy" enter Merriam-Webster dictionary

Annoying internet nonsense once again invades the senescent world of dead-tree lexicography. Stephanie Reitz of the AP reports that the likes of "woot" and "webinar" have entered Merriam-Webster's 2008 dictionary. Screw you, Merriam and Webster! This is the dictionary which implies that "irregardless" might one day meet general acceptance. There are some good additions, however. "Fanboy" will no longer be a target of Mrs. Buttermer's red pen, for example, and nor will the 1954-vintage "mondegreen," referring to a misheard phrase or lyric, finally gets its due. If that can wait a half-century, why not bullshit like "netroots" and "infinity pool?" MW dates "fanboy" to 1919! This presents an image of pre-war urchins arguing over whether the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Supertronordion with Ultona Tone Arm or the Edison Diamond Disk Phonograph Victrola offered a more authentic reproduction of the Black Bottom Stomp-fox trot's natural sound. MW unveils new dictionary words [AP]

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12 Responses to "Woot," "Malware," "Fanboy" enter Merriam-Webster dictionary

  1. Narual says:

    I was expecting this to be posted by brownlee… I guess BBG has another source of useless vitriol now.

    The language changes. I really don’t think this sort of response is deserved until they start putting leetspeak or sms shorthand words in (without tagging them as abbreviations).

  2. BCJ says:

    I can’t say I have ever heard netroots or infinity pool before this article. I had to look both of them up. To be fair, there are a lot of words in the dictionary that I don’t know, but I somehow have trouble believing that these words are in common enough usage to warrant being in the dictionary.

  3. jpburnham says:

    Many years ago, one of my friends worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. One of the main sources of amusement/annoyance for lexicographers are people who don’t realize what the purpose of dictionaries is. The purpose is to document the changing usage of the English language – it is NOT to try to set the language in stone.

  4. Robotech_Master says:

    This kind of reminds me of the Nero Wolve novel Gambit, in which Wolfe bought a copy of the new Webster’s dictionary expressly so he could burn it.

    She was staring up at me. “He’s burning up a dictionary?”

    “Right. That’s nothing. Once he burned up a cookbook because it said to remove the hide from a ham end before putting it in the pot with lima beans. Which he loves most, food or words, is a tossup.”

    – Archie, explaining Wolfe’s reaction to a dictionary that allows the use of “imply” in place of “infer,” in Gambit, chapter 1.

  5. BCJ says:

    I don’t know when this happened, but apparently google is a word according to Merriam-Webster. It would seem they are fairly good at keeping their dictionary up to date.

    Does anyone know what their policy for removing words from the dictionary is? There are plenty of ‘words’ that don’t seem to have any place in modern English, are they marked as archaic, or are they removed? Likewise, there are plenty of words that are used extensively for a short period of time, and then fall into misuse forevermore (for example the term xerox used to mean copying, In 20 years, I would find it unlikely that anyone will be using it), are they removed or just marked as slang?

  6. sisyphus says:


    That’s particularly true for the OED, which these days is more of a self-styled “comprehensive history of the English language” rather than any kind of pragmatic reference tool.

    The prescriptive vs. descriptive scuffle never tires, though, and I’m not immune: I still get riled up when I hear “impact” used as a verb.

  7. BCJ says:


    But nouning verbs and verbing nouns is what the English language is all about, especially in the case of verby nouns like impact.

  8. Strophe says:

    Why the hate? “W00t” and “webinar” are linguistic utterances with distinct meanings for a huge amount of speakers. Doesn’t that qualify them to be in a dictionary? I can’t say I’ve ever encountered “netroots” or “infinity pool.”

    @3: Agreed; a good lexicographer is describing rather than prescribing. A good dictionary will reflect that.

    Still: I would be a lying liar who is full of lies if I said that the word “irregardless” didn’t make my brain cry a little bit every time I hear it.

  9. John Brownlee says:

    “I was expecting this to be posted by brownlee… I guess BBG has another source of useless vitriol now.”


  10. Rob Beschizza says:

    I post irregardless of criticism.

  11. dculberson says:


    You are the insult master!


  12. dr_spork says:

    Remember when “w00t” was crowned word of the year?


    Let’s not forget that even Merriam-Webster insists on its correct spelling–two zeros instead of two Os. — “w00t!” not “woot!”

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