Batch Of New Words For Dictionary

Unless you've been living on a desert island for the past decade, you know what it is. But how do you spell it?

"Dot-com" is preferred, according to the new edition of the Random House Webster's New College Dictionary. Or it can be "dot.com," but certainly not "dotcom" or ".com."

According to Random House, the preferred terms are also "antiglare" (a type of headlight), "sky surfing" (aerial skateboarding), "slamming" (change of long-distance service without customer's permission) and "zettabyte" (one sextillion bytes).

Those are among the hundreds of words appearing for the first time among 207,000 definitions in the 1999 edition of the dictionary due out next month.

"It's very media-heavy," said Wendalyn Nichols, editorial director for Random House References. "We just try to stay on top of current issues. Slang is the sexiest, but we also keep up with the latest political leaders."

The dictionary will have competition from the other college dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster's, American Heritage and Webster's New World.

Random House's new words include "24-7," "energy bar," "megaplex," "fashionistas," "Gen Y'ers" and "e-tailing." Only time will tell how they weather the era.

Also included are "gaydar'' (a homosexual's ability to spot another), "eye candy" (attractive person of limited merit) and "senior moment" (brief lapse or moment of confusion).

Some of the slang phrases included are "dead-cat bounce" (a temporary recovery in stock prices after a steep decline) and "my bad!" (whoops).

In the 1940s, says Random House, the list included apartheid, atom bomb, baby-sit, barf, cheeseburger and gobbledygook. In the 1950s came aerospace, brainstorming, car wash, do-it-yourself and meter maid.

The 1960s brought area code, biohazard, Brownie point, doofus, disco, glitch, Op-Ed and sexism.

The 1970s? Airhead, bean counter, deadbeat dad, junk food and gentrify.

Words for the 1980s included AIDS, caller ID, channel surf, dis, trophy wife and wannabe.

The last decade added anatomically correct, bad hair day, carjacking, soccer mom, step aerobics and World Wide Web.

Which brings us back to dot-com.


By Richard Pyle
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments