WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.The latest version of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is hitting the presses with more than one hundred new words. But one Chicago-based lexicographer says the words won’t be new to everyone. Words like “subprime” and “pescaterian” have been a part of some conversations for years. But now they’ve made it into the linguistic big leagues. Chicago-based lexicographer Erin McKean says it’s a sign of their popularity.
MCKEAN: Not that yesterday they weren’t words and now they are. But they think the words have reached some sort of critical point at which they are going to be useful to a wide range of people.
She says if your favorite word isn’t in there yet, you should use it anyway.
MCKEAN: And if someone says to you that’s not a real word, ask them in what way is it not real? If their only answer is, ‘It’s not in the dictionary,’ then you say, ‘Well, that doesn’t prove anything and a lexicographer told me so!’
But McKean says that philosophy probably won’t get you through your next Scrabble game.