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The first reference found by Merriam-Webster for “aha moment” dates to 1939 in a book of psychology. Its use was sporadic until the ‘90s, when Oprah Winfrey began using it on her no-longer-on-the-air TV show.

“In fact, aha moment is so closely associated with Oprah that in 2009, she and Mutual of Omaha got involved in a legal imbroglio over Mutual of Omaha’s use of the phrase, with Oprah claiming that aha moment was her catchphrase and she had the rights to it,” Stamper said.

The case was settled out of court in 2009.

The word “tweet” led last year’s new-word highlights from Merriam-Webster. This year’s additions are more eclectic, Stamper said.

“This is a list of really descriptive and evocative, fun words. Some years, not so fun. Some years it’s a lot of science words. Some years it’s a lot of words around really heavy topics,” she said.

There are a few of those this time around: copernicium among them.

It’s a short-lived, artifically produced radioactive element that has 112 protons and is the most recent addition to the Periodic Table of Elements. It was first created in a German lab in 1996 and named for the astronomer Copernicus.

The recession blues are represented.

Merriam-Webster added “systemic risk” and a new definition for “underwater,” to describe the heartbreaking realization that you owe more on your mortgage than your property is worth. Among other new economic terms is an extra definition for “toxic,” as it relates to an “asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market.”

Flexitarian, traced to 1998, is defined as “one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish,” while obesogenic (dating to 1986) is an adjective for “promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity.”

Stamper calls flexitarian one in a long line of “you are what you eat” entries.

“As our society has become more aware of our eating patterns, we’ve seen a proliferation of its use,” she said. “There are people who object to the very idea of being a flexitarian, and therefore to the existence of the word.”

Obesogenic remains a term more restricted to technical writing, Stamper said. It refers to an environment where something or some pattern — food deserts in a city, for example — is suspected of putting people at risk for obesity.

“Over the last few years, it’s showed up quite a bit in more general sources, like The New York Times,” she said.

Merriam-Webster leads the dictionary market, said John Morse, president of the privately held company who wouldn’t release sales figures. He also wouldn’t release a full list of new entries, in part to put off competitors.

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