Merriam-Webster adds new food words to dictionary

The terms gain official recognition when they have entered the general vocabulary.

Guardians of the English language at Merriam-Webster have added another 640 new words to the dictionary, including food words like mofongo, umami and chai latte.

Of the 640 new words, 17 are food-related, reports Food & Wine.

Some of the more surprising new entries include double-dip — “to repeat the action of dipping a chip or other snack into a shared dipping sauce or mixture after taking a bite” — and java, a synonym for coffee.

Mofongo. Picture: iStock

Though the terms have become common and even banal in everyday conversation, they’ve only been officially recognised by the dictionary this year.

Other food-related words come from international cuisines including the popular Puerto Rican dish mofongo (fried green plantains mashed with garlic, salt, and olive oil, traditionally paired with meat or seafood and served with broth), bhut jolokia (a small, extremely hot chili pepper) and dulce de leche (sweetened caramelised milk that is traditionally made by reducing a mixture of milk and sugar over heat).

Editors explain that the traditional trajectory for new word entries starts from specialists or subcultures, with the terms gaining official recognition when they’ve entered the general vocabulary.

Ghost pepper. Picture: iStcok

Here are the new food terms for 2019, according to Food & Wine:

bay-rum tree
bhut jolokia
chai latte
cow parsnip / giant cow parsnip
dulce de leche
ghost pepper
steak (non-meat)

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