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    7 new Merriam-Webster definitions you should know

    Springfield, MA - 2/8/2017 - Copies of the Merriam-Webster dictionary line shelves at the company's offices in Springfield, MA, February 8, 2017. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
    Keith Bedford/Globe Staff, file
    Copies of the Merriam-Webster dictionary line shelves at the company's offices in Springfield, MA, in February 2017.

    It’s a busy time for the American lexicon, and the folks over at Merriam-Webster are doing their best to keep up.

    The Springfield-based company announced Monday the addition of 250 new words to its dictionary website, a collection of nouns, verbs and adjectives spanning a range of topics, from technology to sports to — of course — politics.

    “Our aim is to catalogue the language, and we’re constantly monitoring it,” says Emily Brewster, associate editor at Merriam-Webster, adding that the company makes additions a few times each year. “When people are encountering words in their daily lives, we need to be aware of that and define them so people have a source to get the information they’re looking for.”


    While some of the new additions are obvious enough — “troll,” meaning to criticize, harrass or antagonize someone publicly; “froyo” as a slang term for frozen yogurt — others are a bit more obscure.

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    There’s “word salad” (“a string of empty, incoherent, unintelligible, or nonsensical words or comments”) and “working memory” (“memory that involves storing, focusing attention on, and manipulating information for a relatively short period of time”).

    One of Brewster’s personal favorites is “dog whistle,” “an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people.”

    Here are seven of the more interesting additions, along with examples of how you might work them into an average, everyday Boston conversation.

    Pregame: Existing or occurring before a game; a pregame party; the athlete’s usual pregame meal.


    Example: “We had so much fun at the pregame on Sunday that we didn’t make it into the stadium until the second quarter.”

    Onboarding: The act or process of orienting and training a new employee.

    Example: “Jimmy and Tommy were just hired as part of the early-morning crew here at Dunkin’, and we’re doing everything we can to get them onboarded as quickly as possible.”

    Front: To assume a fake or false personality to conceal one’s true identity and character.

    “That guy with the ponytail tried to front while I was talking to Minnie Driver, but then my friends and I started asking him about whether he liked apples, and so he knocked it off.”

    Bunny: In basketball, an easyshot (such as a layup) taken close to the basket.

    Example: “The Celtics are going to need to make all of their bunnies next season if they hope to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.”

    Ransomware: Computer malware that requires a victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files.

    Example: “These Russian hackers got me pretty good with this ransomware, so now I’ve got to give them all of my Bitcoin if I ever want to see my Rob Gronkowski fan fiction Word documents again.”

    The Internet of Things: The networking capability that allows information to be sent to and received from objects and devices (such as fixtures and kitchen appliances) using the Internet.


    Example: “Thanks to the Internet of Things, I can listen to the best band of all time — the Dropkick Murphys — on four different devices at once,including my refrigerator.”

    Dugan Arnett can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @duganarnett.