You can now safely use the term “dumpster fire” with confidence in your daily lexicon, without it being looked down upon as some type of low-brow millennial slang.
The phrase, which means “an utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation or occurrence,” can officially be found in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, one of hundreds of new words and definitions the Springfield-based company said Monday that it added to its reference service.
A word makes its way into Merriam-Webster’s digital dictionary based on its widespread and sustained usage, Emily Brewster, the publication’s associate editor, said in a statement.
“These new words have been added to the dictionary because they have become established members of the English language,” she said, “and are terms people are likely to encounter.”
In a blog post titled “How a Word Gets Into the Dictionary,” the company further explains that its decision to include a new term doesn’t just come from thin air — the process is meticulous, and involves editors looking for changes in everyday language, hunting down citations for evidence of a word’s consistent use across industries, and making sure it’s not just “a trendy flash in the pan that comes and goes.”
In other words, “if you’re likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update, or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.”
In total, Merriam-Webster announced Monday that it had added 850 new words and meanings to its online arsenal. Below is a snapshot of some of the best — and perhaps most notable — words that met the company’s strict criteria. (Per company policy, only a sampling of the many new terms and definitions were highlighted and mentioned in a blog post and press release.)
■ Glamping: Are you a bit outdoors-y, but not so much that you’re willing to sacrifice a bed, a night stand, and maybe some indoor heating during your escape to the mountains? Then you might try “glamping,” a noun meaning “outdoor camping with amenities and comforts (such as beds, electricity, and access to indoor plumbing) not usually used when camping.”
With glamping, you get all the beauty and serenity of the forest — plus a plug for your iPad so you can binge-watch “This Is Us.”
■ Subtweet: If you spot a comment on Twitter that rubs you the wrong way, and you decide to issue a fierce rebuttal without directly mentioning the original poster, you’re not only throwing shade — you’re also firing off a “subtweet.” This noun is summed up by Merriam-Webster as “a usually mocking or critical tweet that alludes to another Twitter user without including a link to the user’s account.” It’s a semi-stealthy way to complain about someone publicly while also avoiding conflict.
■ Hate-watch: You’re at home. You walk into the living room and your roommate is watching some inane reality television show. Instead of leaving, you plop down on the couch, grab the popcorn, and start watching along with them, if only to shake your head at the train wreck in front of you while pointing a judgmental finger. This is “hate-watching,” a verb that means to “watch and take pleasure in laughing at or criticizing (a disliked television show, movie).”
■ Welp: When life already feels like a dumpster fire, and then you step off the curb and into a puddle, soaking your leg, as an MBTA bus soars by and splashes you, you might hop on your iPhone and text “welp” to a friend, before launching into a tirade about how things really couldn’t get any worse. This “interjection,” as Merriam-Webster describes it, is used informally “to introduce a remark expressing resignation or disappointment.”
■ Bandwidth: When using this noun, you’re no longer just talking about your Internet service provider or a massive data transfer. “Bandwidth” is often used when people refer to “the emotional or mental capacity necessary to do or consider something.” For example: Is your boss sending you a slew of Slack messages while your direct superior is asking you to do something totally unrelated to the task at hand? Meanwhile, your significant other is asking if you can leave work early to pick up the kids. It’s likely, in this case, that you lack the bandwidth to handle it all.Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.