Yearly Archives: 2013

  1. autocorrect square

    How Does Autocorrect Ducking Work, Anyway?

    The iPhone may have only shown up during the aughts, but autocorrect is almost as old as personal computers. Even some of the earliest word processors had a spellcheck feature that suggested alternative words if a word you typed did not appear in its internal dictionary. Certainly, today, autocorrect has come a long way since the Cupertino effect. What’s the Cupertino effect? Well, in its …

  2. Meet Krampus, Saint Nick’s Not-So-Jolly Sidekick

    As the lyrics to the beloved Christmas carol “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” go: “He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice / Santa Claus is coming to town.” Well, if you thought Santa Claus was keeping tabs on who was good or bad, wait until you meet Krampus. Who is Krampus? In Austria, Hungary, and many other parts of Central Europe like Croatia …

  3. Crossword

    Who Invented The Crossword?

    Arthur Wynne is usually credited with inventing the crossword. His first puzzle, called a word-cross, was published in December 1913 in the New York World. But there may have been other predecessors to the crossword: in England in the 19th century and an Italian version called per passare il tempo, which means “to pass the time.”Word crosses eventually became known as crosswords, and their creators became …

  4. oops, misspelling

    Misspelling of the Year 2013

    To explore the psyche of a people, do not look at what they do–look at what they do wrong. Today, we introduce the Misspelling of the Year. A word that was looked up significantly more this year than the year before. A word with lots of different misspellings. A word in the news. The word: furlough. In 2013, Dictionary.com saw tens of thousands of lookups …

  5. Word of the Year, Privacy

    Why “Privacy” Was Our 2013 Word Of The Year

    From PRISM and the Edward Snowden scandal to the arrival of Google Glass, 2013 was the year that the desire to be seen and heard was turned on its head. Consider the following: In January, the TSA scrapped airport body scanners that produce near-naked images of travelers; In June, Edward Snowden revealed the widespread global-spying program, Project PRISM; In October, Google announced new privacy policy …

  6. driving while texting

    The Dictionary Just Got A Little Bigger

    2013 was an exciting year for the English vocabulary. Some long-simmering terms like twerk bounced into the spotlight, while new coinages (from the trendy cronut and selfie to the serious Obamacare) cemented their place in the English language. As the English language grows and evolves, so must our dictionary. Here are just a few words recently added to Dictionary.com: Google Glass DWT bitcoin binge-watch confusticate …

  7. Getty

    Where Does The Word “Hobbit” Come From?

    Bilbo Baggins, Frodo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee—we all know J.R.R. Tolkien created these beloved hobbits for his Hobbit (1937) and Lord of the Rings (1954–55) books. Hobbits are an imaginary race similar to humans, but they are short and have hairy feet. But, while Tolkien conjured up these memorable creatures, did he also the invent word hobbit? Where did hobbit come from? As you may have …

  8. The Growing Popularity Of The Suffix ‘-Splain’

    The term mansplaining received the high honor of being nominated as one of the “most creative” new words at the American Dialect Society 2012 Word of the Year vote. In addition to being creative, this term, particularly the -splaining part, has proven to be incredibly robust and useful as a combining form. What does -splain mean? In 2013, the lexicography team at Dictionary.com added definitions …

  9. What Does The Phrase “Lean In” Mean?

    As flashy and fun as the terms selfie and binge-watch are, it’s important to keep in mind another, more business-casual buzzword of the 2010s: lean in. In fact, this term existed before Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg started using lean in to encourage women to embrace challenge and risk in the workplace. What is the traditional meaning of lean in? Traditionally lean in has been used in the …

  10. How Old Is The Word “Twerk”?

    The word twerk bounced its way into the universal consciousness of English speakers thanks to the controversial performance of Miley Cyrus at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Only a few days later, Oxford Dictionaries Online announced its quarterly update, listing twerk among the new additions (additions that had been planned months before “Twerkgate”). This led to public outcry against making this term “official.” As lexicographers …

  11. Moonstruck: 9 Terms of the Lunar Lexicon

    Whether speculating on the havoc it wreaks when it’s full or waxing poetic on the beauty of its glow, people love talking about the moon. This age-old fascination with our celestial satellite has resulted in a lexicon loaded with lunar-themed words, phrases, and meanings. What does moon mean? Consider the array of senses we have for the word moon itself. In addition to referencing our …

  12. selfie

    Selfie: A Portrait of a Word

    As Word of the Year decisions approach, the lexicography team at Dictionary.com has been reflecting on words that have risen in popularity this year. One such word is selfie. In case you’re unfamiliar with this term, selfie means “a photo that one takes of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam, especially for posting on a social-networking website.” Though self-portraits are far from a novel …