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These 25 words were added to the dictionary in 2021 – how many do you know?

Is your vocab getting a bit… cheugy?

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
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Twenty-twenty-one: it’s been some year. It’s been a year of football chants, jabs and James Bond. It’s also been a pretty good year for language. At least one thousand new entries were added to English dictionaries in 2021, with the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Collins and Dictionary.com transforming our sweet, sweet slang to actual English. Thank goodness: we can now say ‘yeet’ and still be technically correct. 

There’s been some obvious additions – all of the pandemic lingo, as well as all things crypto and NFT-related. But there’s also been some, erm, interesting-sounding stuff. When was the last time you ate a fluffernutter? Or felt haggis-headed? Or considered becoming a boomeranger?

We’ve picked out the most surprising new words of the year (as well as some more familiar faces), so you can brush up your vocab and head into 2022 sounding eloquent AF. How many of these do you know?

Haggis-headed: stupid; foolish (Oxford University Press)

Wabi-sabi: adjective relating to or designating a Japanese aesthetic or world view characterised by finding beauty in imperfection, impermanence, or simplicity; designating a style, appearance, etc, reflecting this aesthetic (Oxford University Press)

Dine-and-dasher: a person who hastily or furtively leaves a restaurant, café, etc, to avoid paying for his or her meal (Oxford University Press)

Bammy: in Jamaican cookery, a round flatbread made from cassava flour. Also more fully bammy bread, bammy cake (Oxford University Press)

Bants: playfully teasing or mocking remarks exchanged with another person or group, esp. among men; banter. Also more generally: playful or wild behaviour (Oxford University Press)

Boomeranger: a person who throws a boomerang (Oxford University Press)

Disaster capitalism: the exploitation of natural or man-made disasters (such as catastrophic weather events, war, epidemics, etc.) in service of capitalist interests (Oxford University Press)

Fingle: to handle (something) with the fingers; to touch all over (Oxford University Press)

Birdo: a birdwatcher (Oxford University Press)

Faux-hawk: a hairstyle resembling a Mohawk in having a central ridge of upright hair but with the sides gathered or slicked upward or back instead of shaved (Merriam-Webster)

TBH: an abbreviation for ‘to be honest’, frequently used in social media and text messaging (Merriam-Webster)

Whataboutism: the act or practice of responding to an accusation of wrongdoing by claiming that an offence committed by another is similar or worse (Merriam-Webster)

Astroturf: falsely made to appear grassroots, used to describe political efforts, campaigns, or organisations that appear to be funded and run by ordinary people but are in fact backed by powerful groups (Merriam-Webster)

Ghost kitchen: a commercial cooking facility used for the preparation of food consumed off the premises – called also cloud kitchen, dark kitchen (Merriam-Webster)

Hygge: a cosy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable (Merriam-Webster)

Otaku: a person having an intense or obsessive interest especially in the fields of anime and manga (Merriam-Webster)

Fluffernutter: a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow creme between two slices of white sandwich bread (Merriam-Webster)

Flex: an act of bragging or showing off (Merriam-Webster)

Dad bod: a physique regarded as typical of an average father, especially one that is slightly overweight and not extremely muscular (Merriam-Webster)

Amirite: slang used in writing for ‘am I right’ to represent or imitate the use of this phrase as a tag question in informal speech (Merriam-Webster)

Yeet: slang, an exclamation of excitement, approval, surprise, or all-around energy, often as issued when doing a dance move or throwing something (Dictionary.com)

Zaddy: slang, an attractive man who is also stylish, charming, and self-confident (Dictionary.com)

Doomscrolling: the practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle (Dictionary.com)

Dad joke: a joke that is regarded as weak or corny, especially one involving a laboured pun (HarperCollins)

Cheugy: slang, no longer regarded as cool or fashionable (HarperCollins)

Now read our rankings of the 20 best films of 2021 – and the best TV shows we binged.

Plus: these are the really, really great books that pulled us through – and the songs that got us (awkwardly) dancing again.

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