Merriam-Webster announced this week that it will add 850 new words to its online dictionary — and our ever evolving love of food can be thanked for many of them.
“In recent years, a the richest source of these newly adopted foreign-language words has been the world of food-or, perhaps we should say: the food of the world,” Merriam-Webster said in a news release about the dictionary update.
Among the new class of words is “aquafaba,” or the leftover water that results from cooked beans. The liquid is used in many vegan dishes and is ofter used as an egg white substitute. “Cotija,” the Mexican hard cow’s milk cheese named after the town in the Mexican state of Michoacán. “Harissa” is a versatile fiery and garlicky paste spice from North Africa. Seemingly late comers to the dictionary are the fermented and effervescent tea drink kombucha and the raw seafood dish “poke.”
If you’re wondering how any of these new words, which also include “queso,” “tzatziki,” and even “Arnold Palmer,” have just now made it into the dictionary, Merriam Webster Associate Editor Emily Brewster explains in a statement that “in order for a word to be added to the dictionary it must have widespread, sustained, and meaningful use.”
So just because a word is popular in your area, doesn’t mean it automatically makes the cut. A word must have “widespread” common usage both verbally and written.
“Dark chocolate” finally got further clarification. “It was formerly though that dark chocolate was self explanatory, but knowing that it is dark in color isn’t really sufficient,” writes Brewster. “It is also important to know that it has a high percentage of cocoa and usually no milk and little sugar.”
Other notable non-food words include cryptocurrency, mansplain, glamping and everyone’s favorite disaster descriptor, dumpster fire.
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