What do Bollywood, Sudoku and speed dating have in common? They all have been legitimized by Merriam-Webster, the dictionary people, and added to their annual list for the newest edition. The new words the last few years have been much more based in popular culture and less high culture. Smackdown, telenovelas and DVR have joined the elite new additions. Also new is IED (improvised explosive device), an abbreviation brought about by the war in Iraq and too often heard these days on the news. My mother loved words. All words. She had taught in a one room school house and had no funds for materials and games for her students, so she created word games. She would also challenge my sister and I to know word definitions. We created a game for long winter nights where, with a huge dictionary on the table, one would find an obscure word and challenge the other players by presenting three possible definitions. One of the definitions had to be the real one from the dictionary. It became so competitive, my sister and I would bet our chores that had to be done on the farm. If on a hot streak, I might not have to feed the calves or chickens for a week! Here’s an example of the game: gneiss (pronounced “nice”). Is it a) a form of ice crystal that is formed only at below minus 20 degrees b) a metamorphic rock made up of light or dark bands c) a rare mountain mammal with bat-like wings found in Indonesia. Well? You’re on your own. Want to place a bet?
PCH at Main Library