If you 'ghost' do you 'throw shade'? US dictionary adds new words

Michelle Obama listens during incoming president Donald Trump's inauguration speech in Washington, Jan 20, 2017.
Michelle Obama listens during incoming president Donald Trump's inauguration speech in Washington, Jan 20, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - The next time someone throws shade at you for ghosting them so you can binge-watch a TV show or retreat to your safe space, you can let them know your behaviour has been recognised by the United States' leading dictionary publisher.

Merriam-Webster on Tuesday (Feb 7) added more than 1,000 new words and definitions, ranging from conversational to scientific, to its website, Merriam-webster.com.

"Throwing shade," for example, originated from black and Latino gay culture in the 1980s and has been popularised more recently through social media.

It means to express contempt through indirect or subtle insults.

"Ghosting," meanwhile, is to abruptly cut off contact with another person, usually a former friend or romantic partner.

Another new entry, "microaggression," is a discriminatory comment or action that subtly - and sometimes unconsciously - expresses prejudice towards a member of a marginalised group.

Other terms include "binge-watch," meaning to view many or all episodes of a TV series in quick succession; "prosopagnosia," an inability to recognise faces; "arancini," fried rice balls; and "safe space," a place intended to be free of bias, conflict and criticism.

"This is a significant addition of words... and it reflects both the breadth of English vocabulary and the speed with which that vocabulary changes," the dictionary's chief digital officer and publisher, Lisa Schneider, said in a statement.

“Snollygoster,” an unprincipled but shrewd person, has also returned to the dictionary after being dropped in 2003 because it had “fallen nearly completely from use,” according to the dictionary’s website.

Originally used in the name-calling politics of 19th-century America, snollygoster was brought back into the mainstream due to conservative TV host Bill O’Reilly’s frequent use of in recent years.

The last time the dictionary updated its website and print edition was in 2014, when it added only 150 words, said a Merriam-Webster spokeswoman, Meghan Lungi.

She said Tuesday's update was its most significant in years.