"Locavores," "staycations" get official in dictionary

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - “Locavores” can officially take a “staycation” this year, being among 100 new words to feature in the 2009 edition of a leading U.S. dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

A generic picture of an English dictionary and a thesaurus. REUTERS/Catherine Benson

John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc., said staycation -- meaning a vacation spent at home or nearby -- was a good example of a word meeting a need and establishing itself in the language very quickly, having first appeared in 2005 but taken off in use in 2007.

He said people enjoyed blending existing words.

“Another example of this kind of creative wordplay from this year’s list is frenemy: one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy,” said Morse in a statement.

“But, in addition to these ‘portmanteau words’, we have added new words from more predictable categories, like science, health, technology, and popular culture, which have also seen widespread use across a variety of publications.”

Many of the new words which appear in the 11th updated print edition and online version of the dictionary reflected the importance of the environment, such a “carbon footprint,” which is a measure of carbon emissions, and “green-collar,” referring to jobs that help the environment.

Words relating to health and medicine were also featured such as “locavore,” or a person eating foods grown locally, and “cardioprotective,” meaning serving to protect the heart.

The list included “waterboarding,” an interrogation technique decried by human rights groups in which water is poured into the detainee’s mouth and nose to give the sensation of drowning.

Pop culture gave rise to a list of new words, with this year’s edition featuring “docusoap,” “fan fiction,” and “reggaeton” -- a popular music of Puerto Rico that combines rap with Caribbean rhythms.

Words from online activities were also making their way into the mainstream, some of which have come back into popular use, such as “sock puppet,” which can mean a hand puppet made of a sock or a false online identity used to deceive.

“Vlog,” a blog containing video material, makes its first appearance in the dictionary as does “webisode,” a TV show that can be seen through a website.

New eating trends were also highlighted by first-time entries such as “acai” and “goji,” both berries that can used in drinks or as juice, and “shawarma,” meaning a sandwich of sliced lamb or chicken with vegetables, and often tahini, wrapped in pita bread.

Merriam-Webster Inc. has been revising and publishing dictionaries since 1843.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy).