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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

American Heritage Makes Some Hefty Additions

Get Wordified (not yet in the new dictionary)! This is Robin Young's portrait, as generated by the American Heritage Dictionary's Web site "You Are Your Words."

Get Wordified (not yet in the new dictionary)! This is Robin Young's portrait, as generated by the American Heritage Dictionary's Web site "You Are Your Words."

Ten years in the making, weighing in at seven and a half pounds, with 10,000 new words on its 2,084 pages, the Fifth Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language hits bookstores this week.

In addition to the print dictionary, costing about $60, the dictionary is also available as an iPhone app and online.

Some of the new words you’ll find:

back•ro•nym (băk’rə-nĭm′)
An acronym coined from an existing word or name. For example, wiki is a backronym when used for what I know is because wiki is a word whose original meaning is “collaborative website.”

egg•corn (ĕg ′ kôrn)
A series of words that result from the misunderstanding of a word or phrase as some other word or phrase having a plausible explanation, as free reign for free rein, or to the manor born for to the manner born (from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet).

ol•lie (ŏl′ē)
n. 1. A skateboarding maneuver in which the rider lifts the board into the air by pressing down on it with the rear foot, raising the front foot, and then raising the rear foot.
A similar maneuver in snowboarding in which the rider lifts the front foot and then the rear foot to spring into the air without going off a ramp.

u•vu•lo•pal•a•to•pha•ryn•go•pla•sty (yvyə-lō-pălə-tō-fə-rĭng′gə-plăstē)
A surgical procedure for treating severe obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airway at the back of the throat is widened by the removal of excess soft tissue including the uvula, tonsils, and part of the soft palate.


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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698053778 John Carter

    One thing not addressed in the interview, I’ve never understood the difference among the American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam-Webster’s, New Oxford American, Random House, etc.  I wonder how the interviewee from American Heritage would describe how he understands that difference from “in-house”?

  • Sue Manuel

    Speaking of  “irregardless”, I have a friend who told me years ago if I ever saw her in the news and she said that word, I would know she was being held against her will; our own private code. That’s how strongly she feels “irregardless” is not a true word.

  • Richard Strehlau

    Well, Robin, since you obviously are going to continue airing great stories about education AND the collision of newspeech and standard usage, perhaps you could voice a small mea culpa about the egregious use of the word for young goat to denote an early-on customer in the classroom. Being of a certain age I still wince, even though the dismissive use of kid is no longer slung at me. 

  • http://www.lauriedoctor.com Laurie Doctor

    My husband came up with the word “celebratrosity” to describe the sort of  person likely to make it on the art world.

  • Bo

    My Favorite word is “sesquipedalian”, because it is what it means.

  • glenn

    An omitted word that I am hearing frequently, including Ms. Young today, is the filler “So” at the beginning of a sentence.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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