Merriam-Webster’s new food words include ‘pumpkin spice’, ‘banh mi’ and more

Pumpkin Spice has officially arrived. Grocery shelves filled with orange packages with all kinds of products featuring that flavor — staples like strawberry and vanilla.

Merriam-Webster added the phrase to its dictionary on Wednesday, along with 369 other words, demonstrating that pumpkin spice has fully assimilated into the language. For those who have somehow avoided grocery shopping and coffee shops for the past decade, each entry states, “Usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice, commonly used in pumpkin pie. defined as a mixture.

Pumpkin Spice won. It’s time to accept it and move on.

Pumpkin spice is one of the list of food-related words added to the dictionary this year. It also includes zeitgeist words such as “sideline” and “supply his chain”, as well as slang terms such as “sus” and “lewk”. The newly-launched term speaks to broader trends in how we eat. There has been a collective interest in animal-free foods, with ‘oat milk’ and ‘plant-based’. People looking for low-alcohol beer, wine, and other beverages want something they can stick with all afternoon. And increased familiarity with food from different cultures means omakase, biria, ras el hanout, mojo and banh mi are on the list.

Some of these may seem to the reader like everyday words that should have been recognized as such long ago. does not mention the same word at the same time. “Binh mi may look very familiar to you. Some would say you must have lived under a rock to find out what it was, but you may be the first to encounter it. Time on our list,” he says.

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And while the term “plant-based” may sound old-fashioned to Whole Foods shoppers and those familiar with vegan culture, not everyone does. The phrase is now in the dictionary because it is so widely used in commercial products, he says.

Recipe: How to make Mexico’s richest red meat stew “Biria”

Labels are just one place for editors to see what words are being used. They monitor social media and user-generated text, but pay close attention to “sites and publications with a broad national audience,” according to the explainer on how they choose their words.

“Every word should grow into itself,” says Sokolovsky. Some words, such as “covid” and “coronavirus,” become part of our vocabulary almost instantly, while others take longer (for example, the use of “pumpkin spice” was first documented). 1931. “ras el hanout” is an English publication that dates back to 1875.)

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Another example of widespread food is viria. As my colleague Tim Carman pointed out last year, thick chili-heated Mexican stews were once largely unknown in the Washington area. But “it quickly became a celebrity during the pandemic, as our phones and Instagram accounts acted as a lifeline to the outside world,” he writes. , and even ramen, can be found on menus in and around the city.

Sokolowski notes that one of the biggest sources of English “borrowing” from other languages ​​is food terminology. In modern times, words are more likely to retain their original spelling and pronunciation, but in the last century there was a tendency for those words to be anglicized. And English has an amazing ability to absorb words,” he says.

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