There’s a theme day for just about anything these days and, on this autumnal Monday afternoon, what better thing to do than immerse yourself in words – in strict alphabetical order?
The reason it falls on October 16th is because dictionary pioneer Noah Webster was born on this day in 1758. More than two and a half centuries later, last month saw the Merriam-Webster Dictionary add 250 new words, and what’s interesting about new words from an Engage Web point of view is how many of them regularly crop up in our sector. Here are three examples:
1. Internet of Things
At the start of 2017, I made bold predictions about how this year could really see the term Internet of Things take off and become a second nature expression. I may not have been entirely on the mark, but the concept is certainly growing and this year has seen the term enter the dictionary.
The idea of the Internet of Things is that traditionally offline items can function through the internet. A recognisable example of this that’s already in common use is heating systems controlled by a smartphone, but more outlandish suggestions include shoes with in-built GPS and frying pans equipped with TV screens.
As a child, a ‘troll’ was one of two things to me – one of those scary creatures that waits under a bridge to scare the Billy Goats Gruff away, or one of those toy dolls with long, brightly coloured hair. Today, it’s come to mean someone who annoys and harasses another person, especially on the internet. There is even a verb ‘to troll’, which means to behave in this manner.
A third web-related term to enter the dictionary last month relates to an extraordinarily fast-growing crime. In 2016, the number of ransomware attacks went up 50%, and the rise of attacks like Locky have caused the term to come into wider usage. Specifically, it refers to an online software attack that seizes or blocks data and demands a fee to be paid for it to be released.
The rate at which the internet is spawning words is sure to see the dictionary continue to expand, so spare a thought today for the lexicographers and etymologists who do a great job of keeping pace with the digital world.