Alongside 14,000 terms and phrases, Bitcoin has been added to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged. The company has also revised, updated and enhanced hundreds of entries. Many of the words added to Unabridged have been used in popular culture for much longer than Bitcoin.
That Bitcoin has been chosen, and so quickly after its advent, speaks to the way in which the cryptocurrency has penetrated far reaches of our collective mind. Other terms, like ‘hella’ and “wacky tobacky” have been around much longer than “Bitcoin,” for instance.
The cryptocurrency appears alongside words like athleisure (“casual clothing designed for athletics and general use”), fit and flare (“fitted through the waist and flaring out at or below the hips”), nomophobia (“fear of being without access to a working cell phone”), dox (“to publicly identify or public-private information about someone especially as a form of revenge”) and many others.
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There have been some criticisms of the definition, such as that Merriam-Webster does not distinguish between “Bitcoin” and “bitcoin.” In the online creation community around the cryptocurrency, oftentimes people use capital “B” when referring to the Bitcoin protocol and network, and lower-case “b” when referring to the coins themselves.
As the team notes in a blog post: “The new entries and senses offer a kind of snapshot of how exactly our language expands. It doesn’t happen quickly—we monitored many of these words for years before they’d met our criteria for entry—and it’s pushed by various fields and endeavors.”
The Bitcoin definitions reads as follows:
Merriam-Webster has been in print and digital media for 150 years. The company prints dictionaries for all ages, and its Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is one of the best-selling books in American history.
The largest team of professional dictionary editors and writers in the US, and one of the largest in the world.
In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries Online added many new words, like Bitcoin and twerk. In that entry, the definition of the cryptocurrency is such: bitcoin, n.: a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank. Another word introduced at the same time included “digital detox.”
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