Are we sure this is a cromulent thing to do, Dictionary.com?
Dictionary.com has updated its database with a slew of new entries and definitions, many of which were inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, or the last year’s social and cultural movements. But some of the words that have been added are — for lack of a better word — not really words.
As part of its latest update, Dictionary.com has embraced three terms inspired by jokes from sitcoms that aired in the mid-‘90s. Two of the words, “cromulent” and “embiggen,” were inspired by a 1996 episode of “The Simpsons,” during a scene which hinged both terms being nonsense words. But now, the digital dictionary is legitimizing both of these non-words with official definitions — “cromulent” meaning “acceptable or legitimate,” and “embiggen” meaning “to make or become bigger” — and perhaps ensuring that future generations, looking back at ‘90s TV, won’t get the joke.
Dictionary.com credits the popularity the third questionable word — “supposably” — to the character of Joey Tribbiani of “Friends,” who definitely didn’t invent the term, but may have helped to popularize it in a 1995 episode. Supposably.
Surprisingly, Dictionary.com isn’t the first reference database to adopt these entries, either. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary already has an entry for “embiggen,” while the Oxford English Dictionary already has entries for all three.
Other new entries to the Dictionary.com database include terms that entered our lexicon amid the pandemic, including “hybrid learning,” “superspreader” and a new definition for the word “Zoom.” And some entries, like “doomscrolling”(obsessively checking the internet for bad news, or “sleep hygiene” (trying to get a maintain our quality of sleep) were directly inspired by habits that many of us were partaking in during lockdown, too.
In addition, Dictionary.com is adding several new words pertaining to race, social justice or identity — topics that came to the forefront of the news cycle in 2020.
“Our update also reflects how our society is reckoning with racism, including in language,” said John Kelly, Managing Editor at Dictionary.com, in a press release issued Thursday morning. “We have added such terms as BIPOC, Critical Race Theory, and overpolice, which have risen to the top of the national discourse on social justice. Another significant decision was to remove the noun slave when referring to people, instead using the adjective enslaved or referring to the institution of slavery.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure we represent people on Dictionary.com with due dignity and humanity.”
A representative for Dictionary.com told Fox News that its database is augmented with new words and definitions regularly (and not only annually), but confirmed that its latest update marks its first new additions for 2021. According to the site, the lexicographers at Dictionary.com revised, added or otherwise “touched” more than 7,600 entries in this update, in total.
It’s unclear when they plan to embiggen the database once again.