New Year, New Words

As a writer, I’ve always been fascinated by language. We have seemingly endless ways in which to express ourselves already, yet we continue to come up with new words each year to keep up with the pace of our ever-changing world. In the last year, dictionaries like Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary have verified everything from abbreviations like fave (for favorite) to smashed words like zoodles (for zucchini noodles). Alongside new intellectual terms, you will find additions in slang, social-media-savvy phrases, and everything in between. Here are a few of our favorite words to take hold of this year.


With the meteoric rise of video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, the verb of the last few years has been binge-watch, or to watch multiple episodes of a television show in rapid succession. Today, you can find the verb in major dictionaries alongside binge-watching (noun) and bingeable (adjective) to better describe your Saturday afternoon pursuits.


In the realm of film, the Oxford English Dictionary recently announced the addition of Spielbergian to its pages – meaning relating to or characteristic of director Steven Spielberg. You can find it near Tarantinoesque, another new addition referencing director Quentin Tarantino, and finally drop the quotation marks when discussing films with fellow cinephiles.


Following in the footsteps of words like fave, the world of food and drink is now replete with verified abbreviations including marg (for margarita) and its counterpart guac (for guacamole). You can even find avo (for avocado) in Merriam-Webster as of 2018, although the frequency of its use in everyday conversation awaits to be seen.


Perhaps the most relevant new word for residents of the Outer Banks is demonym, which refers to the term you use to describe where you are from, like Californian or Floridian. Here, one of the most commonly used demonyms for locals is Outer Bankers, while individual destinations can claim demonyms like Hatteras Islanders, Ocracokers, and Wanchesers.


For the wellness-minded, self-care has been a buzzword in the last few years. It refers to the practice of consciously improving your own health and protecting your sense of well-being and happiness. You can practice self-care by making small adjustments in your everyday life or by taking a full wellness retreat, and now you can confidently put the word down on paper too.


A mashup of beer and festival, beerfest has become commonplace in the world of craft beer drinkers as the tasting events gain popularity across the country. (Outer Bankers being who we are, we wonder if there will eventually be a word for a beer festival with flying kegs, like Outer Banks Brewtäg.) You can use beerfest in combination with other new brew-focused words like hophead, meaning a beer enthusiast.

Instagram (as a verb)

Instagram has been in our collective vocabulary for years, but now it’s finally official to use the name of the social media platform as a verb – as in, he Instagrammed a photo of the beach. Other much-used social media terms like Facebook and hashtag have been given the go ahead as verbs too.


An abbreviation of bourgeois, bougie means marked by a concern for wealth, possessions, and respectability. The relatively new word is often used jokingly when someone is aspiring to be of a higher class, like when you break out the champagne ice bucket for a quiet evening at home.


The word mocktail, used in reference to a nonalcoholic cocktail, has been around for a while but not acknowledged by dictionaries until this year. This is because the mocktail has only recently taken off for adult drinkers with the increased popularity of Dry January, in which health-conscious participants forgo alcohol for the first month of the year, and the creation of non-alcoholic spirits.


Though not officially verified by Merriam-Webster yet, Friendsgiving has been in use for more than a decade and is now a widely accepted term come November. What began as an alternative to Thanksgiving has become a second holiday for many, with the focus shifting from family to friends and a more informal style of celebration. We expect to see this one joining the ranks of official words soon.

The list of newly verified (and soon-to-be verified) words goes on and on, from glamping to facepalm to mansplain. If you have any favorites that you would like to nominate for greater usage in 2019, send them to ♦

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