In 2018, Merriam-Webster added 850 words and definitions to the dictionary, including the relatable “dumpster fire” and “embiggen”—with some food words in the mix too, like harissa, kombucha, poke, and aquafaba (chickpea water used in vegan dishes and cocktails, in case you were wondering). This year, the overarching haul of new words topped 640, and among them, the dictionary flagged 17 food-related terms for us. There’s the beloved Puerto Rican dish mofongo; a non-meat definition of steak (which can refer to cauliflower steaks, mushroom steaks, etc.); and double-dip, which is pretty self-explanatory.
In order to make the cut, a word must demonstrate that it’s an established member of the English language, according to Emily Brewster, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster. There are three criteria that need to be satisfied: frequent use, widespread use, and meaningful use. As for who decides? While you might imagine a formal committee, the staff of lexicographers (an author or editor of a dictionary, according to Merriam-Webster) is in charge. It may seem baffling that common terms such as chai latte and go-cup weren’t already included—they’re certainly regulars at coffee shops—but Brewster provided insight.