15 Slang Words You Didn’t Know Were in the Dictionary
English is an ever-evolving language, so as words make their way into the mainstream, they also make it into the dictionary. Here are some surprising slang terms that with their recent addition to the dictionary are now, like, totally legit.
Apparently, words don’t even have to be words anymore to make it into the dictionary—this one even has punctuation! No idea what it means? We’ll give you a clue: Moby Dick, War and Peace, and most articles in the New Yorker fit this description. Still not sure? It’s “too long; didn’t read.” But now, the abbreviation has gone beyond its original usage to become a noun or adjective meaning summary information: “The TL;DR of the new policy is that…” or “The TL;DR video gives the basic points of the Constitution.” TL;DR is one of 16 text abbreviations everyone should know by now.
Pronounced with a soft “g”—so not “boogy” or “boozy” but “boojy”—this derogatory term for the middle class is short for bourgeois. It’s used condescendingly to refer to those overly concerned with wealth and possessions. Interestingly, Merriam-Webster notes this term goes back to the 1960s, but has just recently made it into the dictionary. Use it as an adjective: “I don’t go to that bar anymore because it’s too bougie” or as a noun: “I don’t go to that bar anymore because it’s full of bougies.”
Any woman can recognize the mansplaining phenomena: The male tendency to talk condescendingly to a woman about things that she already knows well but that he likely doesn’t. (“He mansplained to me how to do my job.”) Some may say the word is now being overused, making it one of those buzzwords people love to hate. But its contribution to language can be seen in the rash of new “splaining words” that have yet to make it to the dictionary: whitesplaining, straight-splaining, left-splaining, and even potluck-splaining.
Words can become abbreviations, and sometimes, abbreviations can become words. Baseball fans will know “ribbie” as the phonetic pronunciation of the term RBI, or runs batted in. (For the sports illiterate, an RBI is a credit a batter gets for making a play that allows a runner to score.) Instead of pronouncing the letters, the stat is commonly pronounced as a word, “ribbie,” now recognized in its own right.
Interestingly, did you know that “acronym” only refers to an abbreviation that’s pronounced as a word, such as UNICEF or POTUS? And did you also know that some acronyms lose their uppercase abbreviation status to become just plain old words, such as radar (radio detection and ranging), scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus), and laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation)? “Ribbie,” though, is not exactly this: It belongs to the category of words that are formed “from spelling out or rendering pronounceable their initials,” according to Merriam-Webster, such as emcee.
This is an easy one, and probably one of the slang terms most people have used. Fave is short for favorite, and the truncation traces all the way back to 1938, according to Merriam-Webster—yet the dictionary only recently added it. Merriam-Webster also allows for an alternate spelling without the ending “e,” so “fav,” although this is highly unusual. Most people would use it in a sentence like this: “My fave word in the dictionary has to be ‘fave.’” It may even be one of the overused words you should stop saying ASAP.