‘Selfie’, ‘hashtag’, ‘catfish’ join Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary

20 May 2014

Social networks Facebook and Twitter are changing the way we speak, if some of the latest additions to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary – ‘selfie’, ‘hashtag’ and ‘tweep’ – are anything to go by.

Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary has just released more than 150 new entries for its collegiate dictionary in 2014, with a good few speaking to an intersection of pop culture and technology, such as ‘auto-tune’ and ‘paywall’.

“So many of these new words show the impact of online connectivity to our lives and livelihoods,” says editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski.

Here are some of the new technology-related words and their definitions in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary, including the earliest year Merriam-Webster editors found the words being used:

Auto-Tune (v., 2003): to adjust or alter (a recording of a voice) with Auto-Tune software or other audio-editing software esp. to correct sung notes that are out of tune

big data (n., 1980): an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools

catfish (n., new sense): a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes

crowdfunding (n., 2006): the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people esp. from the online community

digital divide (n., 1996): the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not

e-waste (n., 2004): waste consisting of discarded electronic products (as computers, televisions, and cell phones)

hashtag (n., 2008): a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that clarifies or categorises the accompanying text (such as a tweet)

hot spot (n., new sense): a place where a wireless internet connection is available

motion capture (n., 1992): a technology for digitally recording specific movements of a person (as an actor) and translating them into computer-animated images

paywall (n., 2004): a system that prevents internet users from accessing certain web content without a paid subscription

selfie (n., 2002): an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera esp. for posting on social networks.

social networking (n., 1998): the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships esp. online

tweep (n., 2008): a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets

unfriend (v., 2003): to remove (someone) from a list of designated friends on a person’s social networking website

Social networking speech bubble image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic