Have you ever wondered how words graduate from undefined slang to being put in one of the most official language archives around? Maybe you haven't, but we bet now that we've mentioned it, you're probably curious. Emily Brewster, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster.com, explained its three-pronged criteria to Refinery29. In order to be inducted into Merriam-Webster and given an official definition, a word must be used frequently, meaningfully, and in a widespread area. This month, Merriam-Webster.com added 850 words. When you consider those requirements it's no surprise that this massive list of new words includes several food-related terms.
Merriam-Webster's director of marketing, Meghan Lunghi, told us that its company policy is not to disclose the full list of new words anytime a large number of them are added at once. However, she did give us a sampling of some of the new food-centric words. She revealed 13 of them to be exact. Included in the list of 850 new words are terms that have long been used almost exclusively by food experts like chefs and sommeliers. Cooking concepts like aquafaba and fond made it in, as did the wine descriptor unoaked.
Other words that were recently added are foods and drinks that have been popping up on restaurant menus in the United States more recently, but are staple ingredients and dishes in other parts of the world. From what we know, this seems to be the largest category of new food terms and includes words like poke, kombucha, tzatziki, queso, chili con queso, za'atar, harissa, cotija, kabocha, and natto.
Finally, there's one outlier in the list of words that we know were recently added. Arnold Palmer, the ice tea and lemonade beverage, just got an official definition on Merriam-Webster.com. This induction might be the most surprising given that it's the only one that doesn't seem related to current food trends or advanced food knowledge. The Arnold Palmer, while delicious, isn't exactly a foodie thing. It's just a basic beverage that has been around ever since the golfer Arnold Palmer started drinking it.
Our bewilderment at this Merriam-Webster addition, however, isn't out of the norm. Associate editor Emily Brewster also told us, "As is always the case with every release of new words, each of us is likely to see some terms as long overdue for inclusion, and other terms as completely unfamiliar—which we think is probably about right." So, what do you think? Do the foodies out there agree?