The New Words Are In, Merriam-Webster Dictionary

2 Min read

13 New words

Late to Coffee with a Baker’s dozen


New words are in. And, 370 words have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary this September. You likely know many and below are some of my favorites. The editors break them down by category, but I noted these in no particular order.

I’m aware when my teen reacts to the lewk–or lack of look–that my OOFOS slides are cringe enough to let me know.* Today my son’s friend wears OOFOS to the house, adorkable my teen might concede. I am ahead of my time.

“How old is this dumbphone?” my daughter asks. “It’s a flip phone honey, cost like $30 to replace this year when the battery died in the old one. Nana likes it because she knows how to use it.” (This is a retronym for the smartphone.)

Banh mi has entered the lexicon, a Vietnamese loanword. The popular sandwich–bread/baguette as literal translation for mi–has been a household name for me. If you like VN cuisine, the word banh refers to a kind of ‘cake’ or prepared item such as banh cuon (fresh spring roll), banh nam (flattened pasta noodle traditionally steamed in banana leaf), or banh beo (steamed pasta with shrimp topping).


I’m late to coffee but tickled to see oat milk make the list, the substitute two friends suggested this year. Coffee as it was when I grew up in its convenience-store and dad’s-kitchen-counter-drip variety was for old people and bitter. Enter the modern cafe with its espresso concoctions and coffee alternatives. I love the smell and the milk cuts the bitterness. I’ll try oat milk, since I bought some yesterday.

The baby hedgehog is a hoglet, an addition the word-birds felt compelled to preface as one of remarkable cuteness, bless them.


The metaverse made it into the MWD, if you were wondering whether such a term belonged to DC Comics or Marvel. In computing it’s about multiple individual virtual realities such as gaming, live entertainment, or collaborative spaces.

Check out janky, sponcon, pwn (is this a Scrabble-worthy word without vowels?), and omakase because they’re fun. A host of health terms make the list, as they had last update with new words in 2020, a la COVID. Blah.

I’ll close with dawn chorus because I appreciate the sounds of sunrise more when I’m rested.



*Baker’s Dozen for this letter includes 13 new words AND for good measure one old, retronym. I thought generosity was the reason behind the extra. Here are theories on the origin.

There are a few theories as to why a baker’s dozen became 13, but the most widely accepted one has to do with avoiding a beating. In medieval England there were laws that related the price of bread to the price of the wheat used to make it. Bakers who were found to be “cheating” their customers by overpricing undersized loaves were subject to strict punishment, including fines or flogging. Even with careful planning it is difficult to ensure that all of your baked goods come out the same size; there may be fluctuations in rising and baking and air content, and many of these bakers didn’t even have scales to weigh their dough. For fear of accidentally coming up short, they would throw in a bit extra to ensure that they wouldn’t end up with a surprise flogging later. In fact, sometimes a baker’s dozen was 14—just to be extra sure. (

*OOFOS is the modern variant of the Ho Chi Minh sandal, but with tangible foot relief for the runner.
*Link to video of dawn chorus, May 5, 2019 Wake Up Calls was created over a nine year period, using recordings of bird song featured on the red and amber lists of endangered British birds (with the exception of a Robin and a Blackbird, which aren’t endangered – yet).

Sep 23, 2022


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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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