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Merriam-Webster adds ‘stan,’ ‘snowflake,’ and ‘EGOT’ to dictionary

More than 640 new words can now be found in the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Springfield-based company announced Tuesday.
More than 640 new words can now be found in the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the Springfield-based company announced Tuesday.(Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/File 2017)

Stans everywhere can now rejoice in recognition, and not just as another internet slang word or a lyric from an Eminem song.

The word, meaning “an extremely or excessively enthusiastic and devoted fan,” can now be found in the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, along with more than 640 other new additions, the Springfield-based company announced Tuesday.

The new words that were added reflect a changing society, the company said in a statement.

“The English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary,” Merriam-Webster said. “The work of revising a dictionary is constant, and it mirrors the culture’s need to make sense of the world with words. There are always new things to be named and new uses for existing words to be explained.”

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Words included in the dictionary have moved from specialized contexts to more general use, hence their addition, Merriam-Webster said.

Wondering what words made the list? Here are some of the most notable words Merriam-Webster included in the new update.

Some words already included in the dictionary have been updated to include additional meanings, including “snowflake,” which isn’t just regarded as frozen precipitation that falls from the sky. The term has been, in recent years, used to describe “someone regarded or treated as unique or special” and also “someone who is overly sensitive.”

Gym rats might already know “swole,” a word used to often describe people who have large muscles. M-W described it as “extremely muscular” or “having a physique enhanced by bodybuilding exercises.”

Ever watch a television episode and wonder why there’s only a couple of characters on-screen and why they’re only in one setting in the entire episode? That’s known as a “bottle episode,” listed in the dictionary as “an inexpensively produced episode of a television series that is typically confined to one setting.”

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Continuing in entertainment, followers of Rita Moreno, Mel Brooks, or John Legend might already know what an “EGOT” is. Whoever holds this title has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award in their lifetime. M-W said “an entry in the dictionary seems like an appropriate award” for this acronym.

Merriam-Webster also added more words pertaining to one’s identity, adding “gender nonconforming,” which pertains to those whose gender expression isn’t contained to gender norms. “Top surgery” and “bottom surgery” also made it on the list, referring to the types of surgical procedures individuals can go through to get their gender affirmed.

In order for new words to be added to the dictionary, the word needs to have gained cultural significance, with enough people knowing the word, the company said.

“Each word follows its own path at its own pace before its use is widespread enough to be included in a dictionary,” Merriam-Webster said.

“A release of new entries is a chance to take stock of how our language is growing as well as a moment for true word lovers to stan for favorite new words — and to learn more about them, today is definitely not the time to unplug,” Merriam-Webster added.


Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.