Every year I like to teach a lesson on new words that have been added to the dictionary recently. The English language is always changing and evolving, and we’re always creating new words or new meanings for existing words. So today you’re going to learn 10 of the new words and expressions that were added to the dictionary in the year 2019.
The literal definition of a snowflake is a single bit of snow. But the word snowflake is also a slang term for a person who thinks they are very special and deserve special treatment, or a person who is extremely sensitive and easily takes offense. So it’s a negative word – calling someone a snowflake is an insult; you are saying they are too sensitive and they consider themselves too special.
the gig economy
The term “the gig economy” refers to work that comes from temporary or part-time jobs, in contrast to a traditional full-time job. Examples of working in the gig economy would be driving for Uber or doing freelance writing work a few hours a week.
The original definition of unplug is to remove the plug from the source of electricity, thus disconnecting a machine from the energy source. But we now also use the verb unplug to talk about when people “disconnect” from digital life by avoiding checking email and social media. If you take a camping trip in the woods where there’s no internet, that would be a good chance to unplug.
This word has gained a new meaning in the world of finance – it is when there is a big decrease in the value of some financial asset, like stocks in a company. So if you have invested $10,000 in a company and then the value of your investment goes down to $6,000, that’s a big haircut!
A joke is a funny story, but a dad joke more specifically is a joke that doesn’t have any bad language or sexual humor, and is more of a silly game with words. It’s the type of joke that a dad, a father, would tell to amuse children, and it’s not especially funny to adults.
vacay, inspo, sesh, solopreneur
Some new words in the dictionary are shortened versions or combinations of existing words. This year we have vacay (short for “vacation”), inspo (short for “inspiration”), sesh (short for “session”) and solopreneur (combination of “solo” and “entrepreneur” – someone who starts their own business and works by themselves).
The expression “deep dive” means a detailed, comprehensive analysis of a subject. If a book gives you a deep dive into another country’s culture, it means it gives you a lot of thorough information (not just superficial facts).
This is a slang expression referring to a brief moment when you forget something or get confused – it’s like your brain temporarily malfunctions. An example of a brain fart would be if you called your boss by your co-worker’s name, or if you forgot your apartment number when filling out a form. Brain farts tend to happen when you’re tired, stressed, or busy, but sometimes they happen for no reason!
Imposter syndrome is when you have accomplished something or succeeded, but you don’t have confidence in yourself, so you feel like you’re not qualified for your current role or your current success. People who have imposter syndrome often feel like they accomplished things by luck or chance instead of by their own skills and knowledge, and they are a little afraid that other people will discover that they aren’t so great.
This is an informal variation of the word “well,” used to start a sentence and to express disappointment or acceptance of something unpleasant. For example, if you had planned to go to the beach but then it starts raining a lot, you might comment, “Welp, I guess we’re staying home today.”
These are just a few of hundreds of new words that have been added to the dictionary in the past year, and I hope you found them interesting!
It’s really important for you to have a good foundation of English vocabulary, so that you can express yourself without pausing and trying to think of the words. My Vocabulary Builder Courses can help you get this good foundation of essential English words. These courses are really helpful in building your vocabulary so that you know what to say in English.
Thanks for joining me today, and I’ll talk to you in the next lesson!