Froyo with obligatory gummy topping.
Froyo with obligatory gummy topping.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Just Added Froyo and More Food Words

Merriam-Webster.com, the popular online dictionary you go to when you can't remember how onomatopoeia, didgeridoo and restaurateur are spelled, has just added 250 brand-new words. While this is particularly interesting for linguistics nerds around the country, it's also pretty cool when it comes to the food-obsessed.

That's because the 250 new entries include these 11 food-based entries:

  • bibimbap
  • California roll
  • Callery pear
  • choux pastry
  • cordon bleu
  • cross contamination
  • farmers market
  • froyo
  • IPA
  • Saigon cinnamon
  • sriracha

So how did froyo make the cut, and where did the word even originate? Emily Brewster, associate editor of the Merriam-Webster, told the Houston Press via phone that froyo, "the playful clipping of frozen yogurt...is not exactly new. We found the earliest evidence of froyo dating back to 1972." That was also around the time slomo, one of the first-ever widely accepted clipped words, was popularized. "Usually words like froyo will exist on the fringes of language, before we consider it an entry. Sometimes, words will have a quicker adoption, like tweet, which got entered in a short period of time. We want proof that a word is fully established. There are thousands of words we're monitoring for assessment."

A staff of about 30 full-time lexicographers catalog the American language, monitoring words of all kinds, all the time.

As for entries such as sriracha or cordon bleu, which seem as if they'd be listed in the dictionary already, Brewster said, "A word can seem ubiquitous to people who pay attention to a particular field, but my grandma in Long Island doesn't know sriracha. The words we're entering don't always seem obvious. We aren't always running the hot new terminology."

They are however, always assessing it. The Merriam-Webster describes its new words as a "snapshot of how vocabularies evolve and expand," and with this list — with these new food entries including words of Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French origin — it looks like the English language is becoming much more inclusive of the cultures that help to define it.

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