Earlier this month, Dictionary.com added over 400 words to its online database, and at least one of those entries caused a stink among social media users, along with everything to ever take place in the observable universe.
The entry that poked the proverbial bear was “supposably,” a mispronunciation of “supposedly.”
Many argued the move was catering to the ignorant who mispronounce words or phrases. And though I cringe every time someone says “supposably” when they mean supposedly, I’m not offended by the update. Mainly because dictionaries merely catalogue words already used in common parlance, and dictionary.com is for people who struggle to spell words like “catalogue.”
I make my living through the English language — mainly because my Spanish language skills only include foods and incredibly inappropriate phrases thanks to working as a professional cook for a decade — and it evolves over time.
For instance, if someone told you they love listening to heavy metal 100 years ago, you’d wonder how anyone could enjoy the sound of lead pipes being banged together. Now, of course, we know that heavy metal is a type of music created for people who have punched holes in their home’s drywall. And it sounds similar to lead pipes being banged together.
But if dictionary.com is going to start altering definitions in response to mispronunciations or misuse, I’ve decided to create a few of my own submissions that run along the lines of “supposably.”
Pacifically (adverb) — a way that is exact and clear, or for a particular purpose, not to be confused with how a ship traveled from California to Japan.
“I pacifically told him I needed those files by Friday even though by me using that word I clearly won’t be able to read them since I don’t have a grasp on the English language.
Literally (adverb) — figuratively (in common usage)
“I went to the store and they were literally out of milk, there were only about 15 or 20 gallons left.”
Nucular (adjective, noun) — relating to atomic weapons or energy, or relating to a nucleus. Or, at least that’s the intent.
“‘Nucular’ would be more accurate if it were used to describe the shade of orange on food products labeled ‘Cheeze,’ not a type of weapon.”
Artisanal (adjective) — Formerly; Made by skilled crafters, usually in small quantities or by using traditional methods. Updated definition; a marketing term that means the exact opposite of those things.
“This nationwide food company is labeling this bread as ‘artisanal’ even though it is made completely by automation and only differs from their other breads because it has some oats on the outer portion of the loaf.”
Spaghetti (noun) — A long, thin pasta used by many to describe every shape and type of pasta in existence.
“For the love of God, please stop calling that spaghetti, it is clearly penne, why do so many people do this!?”
The former quote can be attributed to this author.
Pre-Madonna (noun) — Intended use; a mispronunciation of prima donna — the chief singer in an opera company, or a vain person who does not work well with others. What it sounds like; The time period encompassing the beginning of human existence until the 1983 release of Madonna’s self-titled debut album.
“Many English speakers did not know how to properly pronounce ‘La Isla Bonita’ in Pre-Madonna times.”
Take (something) for granite (idiom) — Intended use; taking something for granted. What it sounds like; Using something in place of a specific type of igneous rock.
“Grant won’t take for granite the deal we got on our granite countertops, granted, the install period was extensive because we didn’t want to take the quartz for granite.”
I’m not alone, supposably, in wincing when certain words or phrases are mispronounced or misused. So, if you had to submit some to dictionary.com, what would they be?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can cringe together, and I’ll feature my favorite submissions in an upcoming column.