Dictionary.com appears to have further ruined a 25-year-old joke from The Simpsons with its new batch of words for 2021. A 1996 episode poked fun at fictional Springfield's use of the nonexistent words "cromulent" and "embiggen"—two of 450 new words added to the online dictionary. "Cromulent" means "acceptable or legitimate," while "embiggen" means "to make or become bigger," according to the dictionary. Fox News notes the joke was apparently already ruined as the Oxford English Dictionary has entries for both words. It also has an entry for "supposably," another of Dictionary.com's new words, which was highlighted in a 1995 episode of Friends. Other new additions for 2021 include "doomscrolling," "Zoom," "deep fake," "superspreader," "hybrid learning," "telework," "BIPOC," "marginalized," "disenfranchisement,” and "overpolice."
Thousands of other entries underwent revisions. "Indigenous" is now capitalized when "referring to a people who are the original, earliest known inhabitants of a region, or are their descendants,” per Mashable. The noun "slave" has also been scrubbed from entries and replaced with the adjective "enslaved." Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of New York Times Magazine's 1619 Project previously noted the importance of this distinction. "I think when we hear the word 'slave,' we think of slavery as being the essence of that person,” she told NPR. "But if you call someone an enslaved person, then it speaks to a condition." The dictionary's managing editor John Kelly notes the update "reflects how our society is reckoning with racism, including in language," per Mashable. "This is part of our ongoing efforts to ensure we represent people on Dictionary.com with due dignity and humanity." (Read more Dictionary.com stories.)