Economic anxiety shows up in Merriam-Webster’s latest dictionary additions

About once a year, Merriam-Webster adds new words to the dictionary. This September, 370 made it in.

Some are related to popular food trends like pumpkin spice, oat milk or omakase, which means chef’s choice—typically in a sushi setting. Others are acronyms frequently used across social media, such as FWIW (for what it’s worth), and ICYMI (in case you missed it.)

But among the list, one theme stands out: the number of words reflecting the economic uncertainty and post-pandemic anxieties that have recently crept into popular usage. Here are just a few as Webster defines them.

Shrinkflation: the practice of reducing a product’s amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price.

Side hustle: work performed for income supplementary to one’s primary job.

Supply chain: the chain of processes, businesses, etc. by which a commodity is produced and distributed; the companies, materials, and systems involved in manufacturing and delivering goods.

Subvariant: one of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant.

Newer buzzwords in finance and tech also made the list: 

Metaverse: a persistent virtual environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities.

Altcoin:  any of various cryptocurrencies that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin.

Others reflect climate concerns and those skirting corporate ESG responsibilities.

Greenwash: to make (something, such as a product, policy, or practice) appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is.

Atmospheric river: a concentrated band of water vapor that flows through the atmosphere.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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