Yo, Merriam-Web

Yo, Merriam.

May I have a word? “Youse-guys.” n. Actually a gender-neutral collective noun with informal, utterly inclusive overtones. Formerly a pure Philly colloquialism.

I understand that it still doesn’t make it into your book, the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, now out in its 11th edition.

But “headbangers” and “dead presidents” did? What’s next? Ho?


I know that all living languages are constantly changing to reflect usage, which is a pretty good reason not to grow up speaking Latin. And popular culture, of course, will always be a prime source of rookie words — usually accompanied by a prudent etymological gestation period. That’s to make words prove themselves — showing that they’re not just ad hoc slang from the fringe.

As they wend their way through the pop culture — whether “jazz,” “photocopy,” “superstar,” “jailbait,” “spiffy,” “groupie,” “goon” or “porno” — they subtly seep into broader usage. We’ve seen this with other recent Merriam-Webster inclusions, i.e., “comb-over,” “heart-healthy” and “McJob.”

But there’s a difference between pop culture and sub culture. As in mainstream usage and linguistic retention pond. That’s why “skank” still doesn’t pass muster and “monica” isn’t yet a M-W verb.

By the way, “headbanger” is defined as both a hard rock musician and a fan. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

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