15 Words You Won’t Believe Are in the Dictionary


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The English language contains nearly one million words, with around 800 to 1,000 new words added to dictionaries each year. Historically, for a word to be included in the dictionary, it had to meet specific criteria that demonstrated meaningful usage. Today, those criteria also consider how trending the word is on social media. As a result, future generations might not use words like pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but they are likely to throw around scientifically recognized terms such as ‘gaydar’ and ‘hangry’ in their daily language. 

Here are 15 words that you won’t believe are in the dictionary.

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1. ‘Fuhgeddaboudit’

Definition: Forget about it (used to indicate that a scenario is unlikely or undesirable).

If you want to really make a New Yorker roll their eyes so hard they practically see their own brain, just throw out a “Fuhgeddaboudit” in the middle of your chat. Despite many locals claiming the term is outdated, dictionaries officially recognize it as a quintessentially New York and New Jersey expression for affirmations like ‘No problem!’ and ‘Certainly!’ or to dismiss something as unworthy of attention. 

Its first known appearance was in The Detroit Free Press back in 1919, but it’s Hollywood that made it famous. According to the former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, it first appeared on TV in the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners. From there, it took off, popping up in “Donnie Brasco” and becoming a frequent flyer in “The Sopranos'” scripts.

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2. ‘Bae’

Definition: An affectionate term used to address or refer to one’s girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc.

If you think shortening “baby” to “bae” is peak laziness, well, the dictionary begs to differ.

While in the 1500s, the word was used to refer to sheep sounds, by 2014 it snagged a spot in the Oxford Dictionaries, used to refer to your significant other. The word it’s everywhere from casual texts to chart-topping hits like Pharrell’s  “Come Get It, Bae.”  

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3. ‘Bro Hug’

Definition: Another term for a man hug.

The bro hug is what happens when men want to express emotion while maintaining a watchful eye on their fragile masculinity. It’s a hybrid of a high-five and a hug that conveys, “Sup, bro?” without compromising coolness.  Born in the heat of Vietnam War camaraderie among African-American soldiers, it’s a fist bump evolved into a half-embrace that’s both a hello and a “we’re in this together.” The bro hug really became popular with Tupac Shakur in his music video for “I Get Around” in 1993.

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4. ‘Vom’

Definition: Vomit

What are we even going to do with all the time we’re saving by trimming down those complicated two-syllable words to just one? As you could have guessed, “vom” is what you say when you need to hurl but you are also too hip to say “vomit.”

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5. ‘Phablet’

Definition: A smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer.

So, “Phablet” is the love child of a phone and a tablet. Too big to fit in your jeans, but too small to be your TV’s sidekick, phablets straddle the  fine line between “Is that a phone in your pocket?” and “Do you need a bag for that tablet?” Phablets are for those who think size matters but can’t decide how much.

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6. ‘Hangry’

Definition: Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.

It may sound like something millennials invented to sound cute, but the state of being “hangry,” a portmanteau of “hunger” and “angry,” is actually a thing. The limbic system, the part of our brains handling emotions like hunger, fear, anxiety, and anger, triggers automatic responses before they reach our conscious awareness in the higher brain areas. These regions take cues from both the limbic system and our surroundings to temper these primal reactions, preventing us from constantly lashing out. However, when glucose levels fall, our brain’s ability to regulate these responses diminishes, explaining why skipping a meal can leave us feeling well…hangry.

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7. ‘Adulting’

Definition: The action or process of becoming, being, or behaving as an adult; the carrying out of the mundane or everyday tasks that are a necessary part of adult life.

Shocked to find themselves facing the same responsibilities as their boomer parents, such as working and paying taxes, millennials felt the need for a new term. So, in 2013, Kelly Williams Brown released “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” — a guide to handling life in the twenties and beyond.  This led to the term “adulting,” transformed from a noun to a verb, becoming a rallying cry for 20-somethings tackling life as grown-ups daily. The word appeared everywhere from mugs to TV comedy by JJ Abrams, and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2022. 

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8. ‘Twerk’

Definition: Dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.

The dance move that made the leap from club corners to headline news actually has its origin in the ’90s New Orleans bounce music scene, tracing back to traditional African dances. But it wasn’t until 2013, when Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance that the word “twerk” turned it into a household term, sparking debates from kitchen tables to cultural studies classes. While researchers found that the word was used as a noun in 1820, spelled “twirk”, to refer to a “twisting or jerking movement” or “twitch,” the updated word with new spelling twerked its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015.

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9. ‘Besties’

Definition: Best friends

While we sincerely hope you’re not using this word to refer to your friends — unless you’re a teenage girl — various dictionaries now say that it’s cool.

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10. ‘Amirite’

Definition: Am I right? (used to invite confirmation or assert that one’s previous statement is correct).

This cheeky twist on “am I right,” was stamped with the Merriam-Webster seal of approval, as the linguistic equivalent of a wink and a nudge.

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11. ‘Gaydar’

Definition: The supposed ability to recognize through observation or intuition that a person is gay.

Numerous studies proved that it’s impossible to actually know if someone is gay or queer without them actually telling you. But despite this, some people claim that they have a “superpower” in sensing people’s sexual orientation. 

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12. ‘Glam-ma’

Definition: Chic, sophisticated women who just happen to be grandparents.

If 60 is the new 40, then “glam-ma” is definitely the new grandma. Gone are the days of grandmas with comfy shoes and permed hair. Today’s glam-mas are taking selfies with their Gen Z grandkids. When Goldie Hawn became a grandmother, no one expected her to adopt the titles “nana” or ‘grandma.” “My son Oliver decided I should be called “Glam-Ma,” which I thought was quite brilliant and made us all laugh so hard,’ Hawn explained in her memoir, “A Lotus Grows in the Mud.” The term has since stuck and found its place in the dictionary.

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13. ‘Yas’

Definition: Expressing great pleasure or excitement.

Back in 2010, when a fan couldn’t contain their excitement and yelled “Yasss, Gaga” at Lady Gaga in a viral video, nobody realized it was internet gold in the making. And yet by 2017 it eventually earned its place in the Oxford English Dictionary.  The popularity of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” added “queen” to the equation, giving it an even more empowering spin. 

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14. ‘Yolo’

Definition: “You only live once;” used especially to rationalize impulsive or reckless behavior.

Remember all those eye rolls we had when a bright-eyed 20-year-old would drop a “YOLO” to justify questionable life choices? Now, it’s not just a cultural catchphrase but a dictionary entry, thanks to Canadian rapper Drake. Coined in his 2011 hit “The Motto,”

Drake laid it out: “You only live once: that’s the motto, YOLO,” entrenching the acronym firmly into our lexicon and, perhaps, our regrets.

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15. ‘Spit Take’

Definition: (Especially as a comic technique) an act of suddenly spitting out liquid one is drinking in response to something funny or surprising.

You know, when something’s so surprising or funny you literally spit out your drink? The term, which got its spotlight thanks to Danny Thomas and his antics on “The Danny Thomas Show,” basically means reacting with shock or laughter so intense, your drink has no choice but to exit stage left. It officially hit the dictionary in 2014 in Oxford Dictionaries and in 2019 in Merriam-Webster.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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