March 14, 2018

¡Ay, caramba! Merriam-Webster is embiggened by 850 newly cromulent words — including one from The Simpsons


Last week, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced in a tweet that they had added 850 new words to the dictionary. One of them bears very special significance to generations of dedicated Simpsons fans.

The word is “embiggens.”

As Charles Pulliam-Moore reports at io9, The Simpsonslong a favorite among deep readers everywherefirst used the word in season seven, episode sixteen, “Lisa the Iconoclast.” It comes up in an educational filmstrip about Jebediah Springfield, legendary founder and namesake of the town where our heroes live:  

According to Merriam-Webster, the official definition of “embiggen” is “to make bigger or more expansive,” and it’s meant to be used in an informal or humorous way.

Jennifer M. Woods writes at Mental Floss that “embiggen” has been used regularly over the years since Jebediah first taught it to us, including at sites like Mental Floss itself (“click to embiggen map” is common there) and in the Ms. Marvel comics, as a catchphrase for superhero Kamala Kahn.

If you’re one of those nerds who’s upset that a “fake” word has been granted official status — don’t have a cow, man. Mass culture has long supplied new words for our vernacular — from “selfie” to “sexting” to “mansplaning” to “binge-watching,” newly invented words speak to shared cultural experiences. An evolving lexicon is indicative of an evolving society.

If anyone wants me, I’ll be in my room.

Worst Moby ever.



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.