Call me a word nerd if you will but, because I'm fascinated by words, I feel compelled to share with you a selection of newbies making it into reputable dictionaries this year.
It's not a case of anything goes, you know; the words have to go through an official process before they are considered dictionary-worthy so some have already been around for a while but have now finally gone through the process.
Of course, the pandemic was bound to throw some up and throw some up it did.
Most of us have probably used three of them regularly in the same way that people started using "liquefaction" after the Christchurch earthquake. Before that event, people would probably have responded, "Lickwee…what?"
So "PPE", "contactless" and "bubble" ("pod" in some countries) need no explanation but a fourth one might.
"Quarenteen" is not a misspelling. No, the homophone for "quarantine" means "a teenager during the Covid-19 pandemic". One suspects boredom might be involved. Ennui if you prefer.
And another is possibly teenage-related given that age group's devotion to social media. "Doomscrolling" means "reading social media posts and expecting them to be bad". Surely that's not unlike absorbing the news from any medium.
"WFH" is surely pandemic-related too. You should make the link easily when I tell you the letters stand for "work(ing) from home".
So far, so good. From now on, you might start grimacing a little. Or a lot. For the first one, it'll probably be a lot.
I think "awe walk" is used as a noun and means "a walk on which you intentionally take notice of the things around you". Perhaps it's also used as a verb ("Let's awe walk") or possibly as a premundial gorbilator (which I have just made up in a bid to make it into the 2022 dictionary).
"Adulting" means "acting like an adult".
So, moving quickly on.
"Thirsty" used to mean "in need of a drink". You might be in need of a very stiff one when I reveal that it now has developed the new meaning, "having a need for attention or approval". I won't offer an example because it would interfere with the more important act of hurrying on.
But things don't get much better. "Truthiness" means "Something that seems/sounds true but is not supported by evidence".
Best we keep hurrying.
"Folx" is one you'll only spot in written text because aloud it sounds the same as the older version "folks". But, you see – and this is where it gets really difficult – "folks" appears to apply to all folks whereas "folx" explicitly signals the inclusion of groups commonly marginalised. I think I understand. Possibly.
If you do something just for show it can now be described by the (disapproving) word "performative". You need an example? Giving a lavish gift to a boss you don't like.
And would you believe that "@" has made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary. As a verb! "Don't @ me" apparently means that the writer does not want to be tagged or dragged into the conversation. You might be interested to know that "atted" is a reasonably common past tense verb on Twitter. Things are certainly changing!
Peter Sololowski, editor of Merriam-Webster dictionaries, says that "when enough of us use these words to communicate, it becomes the dictionary's job to catalogue them and report on how they are used." You can't argue with that so keep 'em coming, Mr Editor.
Let's finish on an example that is a little more appealing than some of the earlier ones. Remember when "distinguished" was the euphemism used to describe greying good looks? Well, now the compliment du jour is "silver fox". If you need to visualise this, think George Clooney or Emmy-Lou Harris.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.