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Merriam-Webster Adds New Food-Related Words

Merriam-Webster makes nine food-related words official.

Illustration of person using new word added to Merriam-Webster dictionary

Last year, if you said “pumpkin spice” in conversation, you technically weren’t speaking “real” words. Now Merriam-Webster, the nearly 200-year-old gatekeeper of the English language, has remedied that.

That phrase, along with sessionable (describing a beer with lower-than-average alcohol content), plant-based and oat milk have now been officially added to the dictionary. So have a number of delicious foods from other shores, including ras el hanout (a North African spice blend), birria (a Mexican stew), omakase (Japanese for “chef’s choice,” often referring to a fixed-price small-plate meal) and banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich).

In deciding on new inclusions, editors at Merriam-Webster monitor media outlets—including national newspapers and social media—to identify terms now part of the popular lexicon. Plant-based pumpkin-spice oat-milk latte, anyone?

See also: Word of the Day: Nutrigeroscience

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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