Sus, Lewk, Subvariant Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Merriam-Webster said it added 370 new words -- including "sus", "lewk" and "subvariant" -- to its dictionary in September, reflecting how language is evolving as humanity breaks free from the pandemic.

Slang word "sus" is shorthand for suspicious while "subvariant" is a nod to how Omicron mutated into different forms at the start of the year, resulting in varying restrictions. "Lewk" means a person's signature style. The new words span business and technology and cyberspace.

READ: 'Vaccine' is Merriam-Webster's 2021 Word of the Year, as Expected

"The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes, which means new words and definitions must continually be added," Merriam-Webster said.

"When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion," it added.

While the new health-related terms added to the dictionary have been existing for many years now, Merriam-Webster said they have "recently entered common speech", making them qualified for entry.


"Subvariant" is defined as "one of two or more distinctive forms or types of the same variant", such as in the case of the Omicron variant which has at least six subvariants.

"Booster dose", meanwhile, refers to "a supplementary dose of a therapeutic agent designed to increase the effectiveness of one or more previously administered doses".

"Emergency use authorization" also made it in the list of new words, defined as "an authorization granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during a public health emergency that allows for the use of a drug or other medical product prior to its full approval".

When it comes to the virtual world and cyberspace, the word "metaverse" was added in the list, which is defined as "a persistent virtual environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities".

Slang words such as "yeet", "janky", "lewk", and "cringe" are also now formally defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, capturing the wide range of emotions and expressions that people experienced in recent years.

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The update in the Merriam-Webster also reflected the downward trend in many economies recently, with the words "shrinkflation", "unbanked", and "side hustle" making their way into the dictionary.

Of course, even though there is a pandemic, the universal love for food remains, with "pumpkin spice", a flavor that has been associated with autumn, "mojo", "omakase", and "banh mi" being defined in the dictionary.

Check out the list of the new words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary here.

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