Every year, Merriam-Webster issues a press release about the new words it's adding to the dictionary.
This year, there are two themes. First: how flat-out Millennial some of the new additions are, and second: the strange etymology of some of the non-Millennial words. (Example: the one that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly started using.)
Merriam-Webster said it's adding more than 1,000 new words for 2017. Here are some of the most interesting, listed in increasing order of Millennialness:
1. Safe space
According to Merriam-Webster, this is "a place (as on a college campus) intended to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations."
It's the least-Millennial word (okay, phrase) on the list, since most of us have never actually heard a Millennial utter it. Instead we hear older people use it when trying to try to mock Millennials--especially liberals and progressives.
Perhaps the most obscure word. It means "a shrewd, unprincipled person," and it's in the dictionary now only because Fox News's O'Reilly started using it--leading people to look it up.
The median age of a Fox News viewer is 68, so we'll count this as the second-least-Millennial word.
"Of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss." Use it in a sentence?
How about: "I wrote a Seussian article for Inc.com, but you probably didn't read it."
This word is just barely Millennial. Seuss died in 1991, although his book, Oh the Places You'll Go, is still the top graduation gift in America, 27 years after publication.
Verb: "to move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or prank."
It sounds Millennial, because we all associate cameras with smartphones, which came of age during the age of Millennials. However, people have been photobombing since long before there was a word for it.
5. Ride shotgun
I'm surprised this one is only now going into the dictionary. You know it. You've ridden in a car. (In case you don't know: "to ride in the front passenger seat of a vehicle.")
But, weren't Millennials the first generation that wasn't allowed to ride in the front seat until they were like, 12?
"Not Safe for Work." If you don't know this one, you've probably been fired. Maybe more than once. (Example below.)
7. First world problem
We're getting a little more Millennial here, as enjoying an emotional cocktail comprised of equal parts angst, guilt, and detachment is a highly Millennial state of being.
This phrase explains itself, but we'll provide an example to make it clear: Getting fired for viewing NSFW content on your work computer is a first world problem.
n. redhead. That's all, just a redhead.
I used to be a ginger, until at about age six or seven my hair started to turn brown. That was right around when the first Millennials were being born, so I think this has to be a borderline Millennial term at best.
v.: "to make a seemingly modest, self-critical, or casual statement or reference that is meant to draw attention to one's admirable or impressive qualities or achievements"
Coined by the late Harris Wittels, a writer and producer (and, born in 1984, a Millennial). Example:
"I hate my lambo! Police is ALWAYS pulling me over just cuz its a lambo so they always think I'm speeding but I'm not!! Then they let me go!"
(h/t on that one, Washington Post)
"There is a real and worthy conversation taking place in this country now, particularly among young people, around the idea of microaggressions--slight, often unintended discriminatory comments or behaviors."
-- Charles M. Blow
Young people (in this context) = "Millennials."
n. "the area in the back of a van, station wagon, or SUV."
This has been around forever, but growing up (and I'm pure Generation X), we called it "the very back." So I'm going to go out on a limb and attribute this one to people of a Millennial persuasion.
n. "one who believes that the truth about an important subject or event is being concealed from the public by a powerful conspiracy ... originated, as far as anyone can tell, to characterize people who embraced alternative explanations for the Sept. 11 attacks."
By definition, it came of age during the Millennial generation, although it's not limited to Millennials, or even predominantly describes them.
"to watch many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession"
Again, a term that has come of age during the Millennial generation, if for no other reason that the technology to do so wasn't previously widespread. (Why don't you try to watch 25 VHS cassettes of X Files, back to back?)
To disappear without explanation, especially during text or other digital communication. Millennials, I salute you for turning this noun with its roots in the 5th century into a 21st century verb.