Merriam-Webster adds political definitions of ‘snowflake,’ ‘purple’

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The makers of the Merriam-Webster dictionary announced Tuesday that more than 600 words had been added, including some contemporary political definitions for existing words.

Among the list of new definitions added this month include a definition of the word “purple,” which the dictionary says now describes areas of mixed Democratic and Republican voters.

{mosads}”Purple can now refer to geographical areas where voters are split between Democrats and Republicans,” it says.

Another definition added to the dictionary was an alternate meaning for “snowflake,” which in recent years has been used in a derogatory way to refer to people seen as demanding special treatment for perceived injustices.

Snowflake is “now used to mean both ‘someone regarded or treated as unique or special’ and ‘someone who is overly sensitive,'” Merriam-Webster explained.

Other nonpolitical terms that have seen contemporary popularity, including “shit ton” — vulgar slang for “a large amount or quality” — were also added.

Merriam-Webster, which adds new words every year, also announced the definition of “gig economy,” a term referring to the modern style of labor that involves Americans engaging in short, part-time labor “gigs.”

“The English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary. 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,” Merriam-Webster wrote in a blog post announcing the new definitions.

“A release of new words is also a map of the workings of a dictionary—you get to see what we’ve been up to — and of how words from different contexts come to reside in the same place,” the blog post continued.

Merriam-Webster is among a number of dictionaries that selects a “word of the year” annually, usually choosing one that represents the social or political climate of the time. In 2018, the dictionary chose “justice” as its word of the year.


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