The 21st century is an uncharted landscape of post-postmodernism. Truth can be whatever we want it to be at any given moment — or whatever. It’s up to you.
After consulting with a handful of the top dictionaries (including Merriam-Webster, the Oxford English Dictionary, the Macmillan Dictionary, dictionary.com and Oxford Dictionaries), I have found the following word entries in at least one of them. After all, dictionaries don’t decide which words are words — they simply report on which words are being used out in the wild. Here’s the unbelievable list.
Adorkable. This word made it into the OED’s latest addition of words in December 2020. It’s an adjective that means “unfashionable or socially awkward in a way regarded as appealing or endearing.” You could rightly call this column “adorkable.”
Adulting. This means “to behave like an adult” or “to do adult things.” We have this word because, beginning in the early 1990s, the parents of my fellow millennials gave us participation trophies in first-grade tee-ball leagues.
Ain’t. Ain’t is a versatile word. Somehow it can be a contraction meaning “am not,” “are not,” “is not,” “have not” or “has not.” Although it is still considered nonstandard English, the word “ain’t” is like the Swiss Army knife of Southern slang.
Bro hug. A “bro hug” is a hug between two dudes. I know it’s a specific type of hug where guys join their right hands together and then move their bodies closer together and pat each other on the back with their left hands, but it seems dumb to me for everything to get a gendered label. We don’t call two women hugging a “chick hug,” do we?
Jerkface. This word is an impolite way to refer to an annoying person. When I hear someone yell, “Hey jerkface!” in public, I assume they are trying to get my attention.
Selfie. The “selfie” isn’t anything new, but it’s in the dictionary. It is a noun that means “the photo someone takes of themself.” Be on the lookout for “vaxxie” in a dictionary near you in the coming months. A vaxxie is, of course, a selfie taken while getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Zhuzh. To “zhuzh” something is to make something more stylish or appealing. I first heard the word from the Netflix version of “Queer Eye” when Jonathan Van Ness is making someone’s hair look more attractive. You can also use the word as a noun, as in “I’m going to give your hair a quick zhuzh.”
Like it or not, these words (and more) are in our dictionaries. It’s up to you whether or not you use them. If you’re not happy about it, please don’t unfriend me (“unfriend” is totes in the dictionary, by the way).