What do wing nuts, fanboys and supercross have in common?

They're among the 100 new entries in the upcoming 11th Edition of the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The "new" words range from one that's 127 years old (Prosecco (1881): a dry Italian sparkling wine) to just five years old (Netroots (2003): grassroots political activists who communicate via the Internet, especially by blogs). One of the dictionary editors explains in an AP story:

"As soon as we see the word used without explanation or translation or gloss, we consider it a naturalized citizen of the English language," said Peter Sokolowski, an editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster. "If somebody is using it to convey a specific idea and that idea is successfully conveyed in that word, it's ready to go in the dictionary."

Kathy Schenk over on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentienl's Web site says:

Some of my copy editing colleagues think Merriam-Webster is too quick on the draw in adding words, but that's probably because most journalists use Webster's New World College Dictionary, which isn't as aggressive, I'm told.

I like seeing new words in the dictionary. (Although my dictionary at work is an out-of-date (third edition) of Webster's New World with a cover that is hanging on by a piece of torn cardboard. What? It's well-loved.)

  • Link to AP story, including partial list of new words and definitions and more explanations of why certain types of words are now finding their way into the dictionary.
  • Link to Merriam-Webster press release.