With 2017 finally coming to a close — thank God — it's time to look at what words rose in prominence to enter the hallowed halls of our online dictionaries. This year, Merriam-Webster has added "alt-right" and "sriracha" to its online dictionary, along with roughly 250 other new terms. We can only speculate as to what the 2017 Word of the Year will be, but the new Merriam-Webster listings highlight 2017's top anxieties and obsessions: politics, technology, and food.
The entry grabbing everyone's attention is "alt-right," a self-descriptor used within an extreme facet of the conservative and libertarian movements that advocate white supremacy. The use of the term by mainstream media outlets came under fire last year, when Donald Trump's rhetoric contributed to a rise in violence and harassment against people of color. Labeling anything "alt-right" without added comment makes that movement's politics sound like a legitimate alternative to mainstream conservatism, instead of what it really is: a particularly hateful brand of racism, sexism, LGBTQIAP-phobia, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia. After white supremacists and white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, The Associated Press released new guidelines for use of the term, and "add[ed] 'anti-Semitism' to the definition of 'alt-right.'"
Related are other new entries "troll" and "dog whistle," both of which the self-described "alt-right" are really good at doing. "Troll" now has three new definitions on merriam-webster.com:
2 a: to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
b: to act as a troll ... on (a forum, site, etc.)
c: to harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts
The online dictionary has re-defined "dog whistle" as "an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people." You can see this political ploy in action in the quotes listed here.
"Internet of Things" made Merriam-Webster's cut in the technology category. The phrase refers to those items in our increasingly interconnected world that can make use of a WiFi hotspot. Hence why we have coffee machines, refrigerators, and air conditioners — just to name a few things — that can be controlled via mobile app. "Hive mind" and "ransomware" were also added to merriam-webster.com.
A lot of the new entries came from the foodie world. Everyone's favorite hot sauce, "sriracha," is now in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, alongside other new entries "froyo," "choux pastry," and "Saigon cinnamon."
What is your favorite new word in Merriam-Webster's online dictionary? Let's talk about it on Twitter!