Time-Travelling with Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

“Merriam-Webster now offers a . . . feature called Time Traveler, and it has indeed enabled me to travel in time, because once I start looking at it I find that hours have passed. What could be more bewitching than to see, under a given year, all the words that it birthed, like a squirming litter of word-kittens?

. . . The year-by-year lists start with 1500, the rich vintage that gave us “backside,” “brownie,” “cadaver,” “civil law,” and “haircloth.” The fifteenth, fourteenth, thirteenth, and twelfth centuries each have their own lists, as does the catchall “before 12th century,” notable for its outmoded Anglo-Saxon administrative vocabulary—“wapentake,” “witenagemot”—and for a charming, antiquated term for vocabulary itself: “word-hoard.” Time Traveler comes to a stop in the arids of 2010, a year with only two entries: “Arab Spring” and “gamification.”. . . The record, it seems, is still being compiled. (New entries that don’t yet appear in the dictionary but have been suggested by users in the past few months include “nothing burger,” “negging,” “po-po,” and “heteronegativity.”)”

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Time-Travelling with Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

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