- Associated Press - Thursday, August 25, 2011

SPRINGFIELD, MASS.(AP) Here’s something for your Twitter feed: “Tweet” has earned a spot in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

Used as both a noun and a verb, the word describing a post made on the online Twitter message service is among more than 100 new terms revealed Thursday for the dictionary publisher’s newest edition.

Tweet takes its place among newly included words that reflect everything from high-tech advances to the delicate nuances of family and social relationships.

The newcomers include overly involved “helicopter parents,” for instance, and the “boomerang child” who has returned home in adulthood for financial reasons. Maybe he is spending his days listening to “Americana” music, steering clear of that lonely “cougar” across the street and hanging out a lot with his best buddy, shaking off jokes that they are in a “bromance.” And, of course, he tweets every detail of it.

The wordsmiths at the Springfield, Mass.-based dictionary publisher said they picked the new entries after monitoring their use over several years and watching for references in a variety of sources, including mainstream media outlets.

Some terms, such as tweet, rocketed into prominence in recent years as celebrities, politicians and news outlets have embraced Twitter to immediately reach a worldwide audience.

“Even if people had no interest or possible chance of getting a Twitter account themselves, they now have to know what tweet means, and that’s really why it’s in the dictionary,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.

“It’s not just because the users of that service are so numerous, although they are. It’s because even the nonusers have to know what that word means because they’ll encounter it so often in everyday use,” he said.

A London-based competitor, the Oxford English Dictionary, also recognized the expanding service when it added “retweet” to its Concise Oxford English version this summer with other technology-influenced terms such as “cyberbullying,” which already had a spot in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

Another noteworthy newcomer: “fist bump,” which Merriam-Webster President and Publisher John Morse said he considers “the star of the group” for its ability to succinctly capture the movement and emotion of that simple act of solidarity.

Two people can take special credit for the elevation of “fist bump” into the dictionary: President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, whose knuckle-knocking gesture of affection when he accepted the 2008 nomination was described by The Washington Post as “the fist bump heard ‘round the world.”

The act of bumping the front of a closed fist against that of another person has been common for years in sports. Some media outlets have also speculated it might have grown as a way to avoid handshakes and germs, or as a hip alternative to the high-five.

When the presidential candidate in a major American political party does a fist bump with his wife on worldwide television, there’s no question that the term has earned its place in the dictionary, Mr. Morse said.

“Everything else on the [new words] list can be somewhat tied into a theme, whether it’s technology or social change or sports. But fist bump is just pure American culture expressing itself in its own vocabulary,” Mr. Morse said.



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