Is it a sign of our troubled times that drinking on the go is now a thing?
Hard to tell from here in Louisiana, where it’s long been socially and legally acceptable to grab one more for the road, quite literally (no open containers while driving, though!). But perhaps something’s going on out there in the rest of the country, if we’re to draw conclusions from Merriam-Webster’s updated list of officially recognized words.
“Go-cup” made this year’s cut, according to the folks who decide which sayings have become so commonplace that they’ve earned a spot in the dictionary. It’s defined as “a plastic or paper cup used especially for taking a beverage off the premises of a bar, restaurant, etc.” in case you hadn’t heard.
The company added more than 640 new words to its dictionary, it announced recently, and they’re not at all random. Instead, the changes are an attempt to keep up with how people are living their lives.
“The English language never sleeps, and neither does the dictionary. The work of revising a dictionary is constant, and it mirrors the culture’s need to make sense of the world with words,” its press release says.
A quick scan of some of the other new additions confirms that Merriam-Webster has its finger on the pulse.
Some old standards got updated definitions. “Snowflake” now doesn’t just refer to the white stuff that falls from the sky, but also to “someone regarded or treated as unique or special” and “someone who is overly sensitive.” “Purple” isn’t just the color you get when you mix red and blue anymore; now it also describes “geographical areas where voters are split between Democrats and Republicans.”
Some phrases that grew out of modern life, or a more modern understanding of life, made the list. Among them are “gig economy,” and “gender nonconforming.” Technology pointed the way to still more newly common terms, including “page view” and “screen time.” And foodie trends inspired entries such as “chai latte” and “steak (non-meat).” Don’t tell the Louisiana Legislature about that one.
So what’s “go-cup” doing in this club? Only the dictionary-makers know. Maybe they figured that, with the government in turmoil and the “gig economy” making daily life more fraught, people are resorting to a little something extra to cope.
Or who know? Maybe someone who works there recently discovered the wonders of Mardi Gras.