If you like to turn a lewk, regularly pwn your friends in “Fortnite” or find the ordinary dictionary janky, you’re in luck: Merriam-Webster has added a slew of slang to its dictionary, lending new legitimacy to those informal terms and more.
It typically takes years for such slang to find its way into reference books, but Merriam-Webster says it’s just following the internet’s lead: We’re adopting this language online quickly, so the dictionary is learning to quickly make room for these oft-used, made-up words. Read on for definitions and uses so you can level up your conversational skills.
New slang, old dictionary
Some of the words Merriam-Webster is adding have, admittedly, been in common use for over a decade: Zooey Deschanel arguably popularized the word “adorkable” when she began starring on the sitcom “New Girl,” and “janky” has, at least in this author’s experience, been a favorite descriptor among middle and high school students for years now.
And then there’s “MacGyver,” now a verb for fixing something with whatever you have on hand like the titular hero of the 1985 TV series. Better late than never, right, Merriam-Webster?
Here are a few of the new slang terms you’ll find in Merriam-Webster (with definitions courtesy of the dictionary) plus examples, so you’ll never have to worry whether you’re being cringe for misusing these words.
Yeet (n.): An expression of surprise, approval or excited enthusiasm.
Ex.: I get to eat the cookies you baked before we eat dinner? YEET!
Yeet (v.) To throw something with force and without regard for the thing being thrown.
Ex.: I yeeted the quiz that I failed right into the trash can.
Janky (adj.): of very poor quality, or not functioning properly.
Ex.: My janky computer likes to restart itself in the middle of Zoom meetings.
Sus (adj.): short for suspicious or suspect.
Ex.: Isn’t it a bit sus that you never see Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the same location?
Lewk (n.): a fashionable look distinctive to the wearer and noticeable and memorable to others.
Ex.: “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK” contestant Bimini Bon Boulash turned a lewk on the runway when she emerged in a Vivienne Westwood-inspired bridal corset.
Pwn (v.): to dominate and defeat. Pronounced like “own.”
Ex.: I totally pwned my opponents in an epic game of tag yesterday.
Baller (adj.): excellent, exciting or extraordinary, especially in a way that is suggestive of a lavish lifestyle.
Ex.: It was very baller of you to share your lottery winnings with us.
Other odds and ends
These words aren’t considered slang, but they also weren’t accepted into the Merriam-Webster dictionary until now. You may not use these words in daily life – how often are you talking about baby hedgehogs? – but they’re important enough to belong in a reference book, at least online.
Hoglet (n.): a baby hedgehog.
Ex.: I need to snuggle that hoglet while its quills are not yet pointy.
Pumpkin spice (n.): A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice commonly used in pumpkin pie.
Ex.: Pumpkin spice lattes were once a harbinger of autumn, but now they appear on menus starting in late summer.
LARP (n.): short for live action roleplay, a game in which players reenact fantasy scenarios.
Ex.: I twisted my ankle during a LARP session in which I pantomimed riding into battle on a horse.
Level up (v.): Advancing or improving oneself as if you’re playing a game.
Ex.: In her song “Level Up,” Ciara implores us all to drop the haters holding us back and instead explore our full potential.
Metaverse (n.): A virtual environment in which users can access multiple virtual realities.
Ex.: In the metaverse, all I do is buy digital clothes for my avatar and talk to other users.