Sunday, June 29, 2008

“Biophony,” “Performant,” etc. — The Open Dictionary

by Peter Sokolowski
“Biophony,” “performant,” and “donor fatigue”— just a sampling of the creative new words and expressions recently submitted by the public to Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. Read on for their definitions…

biophony (noun): the cumulative non-human sound produced by living organisms in a given biome

Example of use: The biophony of every location in nature is unique.

certificant (noun): an individual who has achieved one or more certifications

Example of use: The registration card confirms that the certificant “is a certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist in good standing.”

donor fatigue (noun) : a reduction in the will or ability to donate money to charity due to relentless demand or one’s own financial responsibilities.

Example of use: Many Americans are suffering from donor fatigue with the recent cyclone in Myanmar and the recent earthquake in China.

performant (adjective): performing according to specifications

Example of use: After the code upgrade, the software is now performant.

soapbox (verb): to deliver or proclaim unyielding opinions

Example of use: He has an opinion on everything and is now soapboxing again on topics he knows nothing about.

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When you notice a new word — on the radio, in a book or magazine, or online — and discover that it’s not in the dictionary, then it’s a good candidate for Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. Some words catch on, some don’t. It usually takes a few years for a word to enter the language and be used by many people in many different places. Lexicographers collect the evidence of new words used in print to determine when they are to be entered in the dictionary.

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