Thinning the Herd


"When the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary came out in July," writes David Kipen, "the publisher and the media mostly stressed the 10,000 newly added words and senses. 'Phat,' especially, came in for a lot of attention, as did 'Frankenfood' and 'cheesed off.' What got hardly any attention were the evicted words—the fat that got trimmed to make room for 'phat.'"

Among the deported entries: microcopy, record changer, portapak, vitamin G, frutescent, impudicity, sheep-dip, ten-cent store, and snollygoster, which means "a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician." Comments Kipen: "Now there's a word that's outlived its usefulness, you bet."