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New Words in the Dictionary That Might Surprise You (2021)

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The English language is in a constant state of flux. People routinely create and redefine words. Words from other languages are making their way into the lexicon too. It’s how every language has always worked, and it’s a good thing. That doesn’t mean, however, that every new word will make sense to everyone right away. Many new words surprise us when they end up in official word lists. The following are examples of unconventional new words in the dictionary.

Arigato

“Arigato” is the Japanese word for “thank you.” The Japanese people and their culture have had a long-standing influence on many English-speaking societies. This has now led to the word “arigato” seeing increasingly common use in English too.

  • EXAMPLE: Person 1: “Would you like my piece of the birthday cake? I’m full.”
    Person 2: “Yes, I would. Arigato, man.”

Feen

“Feen” is an informal Irish word and a synonym for “man.” It’s also commonly used as a slang term to express a strong desire for something.

  • EXAMPLE: “That feen at the end of the bar was checking her out all night.”

Fleek

the definition of the word fleekthe definition of the word fleek

This term typically appears in the phrase “on fleek.” It is a synonym of “on point” and conveys that something is accurate, stylish or perfectly done.

  • EXAMPLE: “Her outfits for these parties are always on fleek.”

Hakuna Matata

“Hakuna matata” was made popular for use in English by the 1994 animated film The Lion King. It comes from the Swahili language and means “There are no troubles.”

  • EXAMPLE: “Don’t stress out if that job doesn’t call you back. Hakuna matata, my friend.”

Periodt

This word is a newer slang term that someone will use to punctuate or emphasize a statement. As an interjection, “periodt” expresses that the matter at hand is closed and not up for further discussion. 

  • EXAMPLE: “She’s not coming with us after the stunt she pulled last time. Periodt.”

Sicario

Originating from Latin America, the term “sicario” refers to someone who is a hired killer or assassin. It has the same usage as “hitman.”

  • EXAMPLE: “That creepy guy we saw lurking in the park? He looked exactly like a stereotypical sicario.”

Simping

This Gen Z slang word describes someone who has a passionate and almost obsessive crush on a person who does not reciprocate the feelings. It usually implies that the person “simping” is foolish for being so infatuated.

  • EXAMPLE: “Dude, you seriously need to stop simping over her. She’s got a boyfriend.”

Smol

Like many new words in the dictionary, “smol” started as a slang word. For its users, it is a cuter way of spelling the word “small.” In this context, “smol” denotes that something or someone is petite or tiny in a cute or adorable way.

  • EXAMPLE: “I almost caved and bought a bunny while I was browsing the pet store yesterday. They’re all just so smol and fluffy.”

Swole

the definition of the word swolethe definition of the word swole

“Swole” is essentially an antonym of “smol.” You use this word to describe someone who is very muscular, large and strong.

  • EXAMPLE: Person 1: “Hey, why hasn’t your brother wanted to hang out with us these past few days?” Person 2: “Well, he’s trying out for the wrestling team, so he’s been spending all of his free time at the gym trying to get swole.”

WDYM

New words in the dictionary can start as abbreviations and acronyms too. This is a shortened version of “What do you mean?” Use this term in a text message when you want someone to provide a detailed explanation for something they mentioned.

  • EXAMPLE: “I always make everything about myself? WDYM?”

WYD

“WYD” stands for “What You Do,” which more accurately means, “What are you doing?” Used almost exclusively in text-based messages, “WYD” is a way to ask if someone is available to do something.

  • EXAMPLE: “Sorry, I can’t go with you this Saturday. WYD next Friday though?”

Yeet

The new word “yeet” can serve as an exclamation or a verb. It describes the intentional or accidental tossing of an object. Use of it as an exclamation is often for humorous effect.

  • EXAMPLE: “I told him to take the trash to the street, but when he got halfway down the driveway, he just yeeted the bag at the curb.”

From Casual Lingo to Official Lexicon

It’s always bizarre at first to see slang and other non-conventional terms become new dictionary words. But, that’s how nearly every word starts. They go from out of place to commonplace. Take a look at some truly strange words in the dictionary for more examples. The English language has a knack for constantly surprising us with new and peculiar words, and the ones on this list are prime examples of that fact.


Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.

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