These new dictionary words say a lot about pandemic eating habits

The pandemic has changed lives in ways that we cannot even fully conceptualize yet. As we all entered a world of virtual classrooms and happy hours Zoom, the uncertainty of the world around us has made many unknown things suddenly central to our lives. It’s no surprise that these words and concepts have now found their way into the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster has announced the addition of 455 new words and meanings to Many of those words reflect the changing world around us, from vaccine passports to digital nomads, and a bunch of them relate to food and food preparation, which in and of itself changed in many ways during the pandemic.

New words related to food include the always fun fluffernutter, which is a popular peanut butter and marshmallow sandwich, and the trendy air fryer. Both were used and appreciated a lot during the pandemic, as was the concept of ghost kitchens.

Ghost kitchens gathered a lot of steam during the pandemic as many restaurants were closed and virtual restaurants offered an option of delivery-only menus that would be prepared in satellite kitchens. Curbside delivery and pickup has also been a mainstay of the pandemic, as many restaurants have moved to drive-thru, take-out and delivery models, and this concept has also made its way into the dictionary this year. .

While a wide range of words have been added to the dictionary this year to reflect the pandemic, here are the new words related to food and how Merriam-Webster defines them:

  • Fluffernutter: A peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich between two slices of white sandwich bread.
  • Horchata: A cold sweet drink made with ground rice or almonds and usually flavorings such as cinnamon or vanilla.
  • Chicharron: A small piece of pork belly or pork skin that is fried and typically eaten as a snack.
  • Goetta: Meat (like pork) mixed with oats, onions and spices and fried in the form of a patty.
  • Air Fryer: A small airtight electrical appliance for the rapid cooking of food by means of convection currents circulating rapidly by a fan.
  • Ghost Kitchen: A commercial cooking facility used for the preparation of food consumed off premises – also referred to as the Cloud Kitchen, Dark Kitchen.
  • Curb Pickup / Delivery: A service in which purchased items are delivered to customers waiting in their automobile in a designated area near the establishment.
  • Roast smoked sausage: a gathering in which smoked sausages are cooked over a fire or grill and eaten.
  • Dining in place: relating to, relating to or selling food or beverages consumed on site.
  • Flash Freeze: To freeze something (such as food) quickly to minimize the formation of ice crystals.
  • Carnitas: Small pieces or strips of meat and especially pork that are fried or roasted until crisp and are sometimes served in a burrito or taco.
  • Street Food: Prepared food of a type that is typically sold to customers on a street or sidewalk and is often designed to be carried and eaten while walking.
  • Tile: French wafer-shaped cookie made mostly of flour, egg whites, sugar and butter and hot-shaped into a curved or rolled shape.
  • Baking chocolate: Unsweetened chocolate which is used in particular as an ingredient in baking.
  • Everything (as in seasoning): Topped with a seasoning blend that usually includes seeds (like poppy seeds and sesame seeds), dried garlic, dried onion, and salt.

According to Merriam-Webster, a word is added to the dictionary “when used by many people who all agree that it means the same thing”. That is to say, it has entered everyday life and is used in conversations and on social networks. The alternative can be a word which perhaps has meaning for a group of friends or a family but which is not used by the general population. The word needs to be spread, and in the face of a global pandemic, many words, even though they existed before, have become more commonly used and understood.

But in the face of a lockdown where many people have changed the way they eat and dine, it’s clear that the experience has influenced our words and the way we use them. “Words are added to the dictionary based on widespread use,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at Merriam-Webster, said today in an email. “If a word is used in many publications and by many writers with the same meaning, it is added to the dictionary. “

The “new” words are a mixture of terms that have been around for some time and others that are being considered for the first time or in a new way. “As with all groups of newly added entries, some can sound familiar and others can sound very new – each term that enters the dictionary does so at its own pace,” Sokolowski said. “We are looking for evidence of the use of a word in published writing, which is why a term like fluffernutter, which we date 1961 for its first known use, took so long: it was a term. informal and regional which was much more talked about than him. was written (and published), ”Sokolowski said.

Many of us have spent a lot of time cooking over the past year. “For a term like baking chocolate, the unlimited space of the online dictionary allows us to add compound terms that might have been taken for granted in the past, in part to save valuable space on the table. printed page, ”said Sokolowski, who explained that the terms related to the pandemic were a bit different. “For ghost kitchens and sidewalks, the rapid adoption and heavy coverage in the published media clearly accelerated their acceptance in the language and their entry into the dictionary,” Sokolowski said.

Hopefully next year’s dictionary additions reflect a lot more dining out and trying new experiences in person. For now, we’re pretty happy to have air fryers and ghost kitchens.


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