Feeling cheffy? Merriam-Webster adds 20+ new food words to its dictionary

The Smashburger on Aug. 6 at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery Chicago, on West Kinzie Street in Chicago. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

It’s time to zhuzh your vocabulary. Merriam-Webster announced 690 words and definitions added to its dictionary in 2023. The words range from colloquial phrases like doggo and “beast mode” to important news words to know, like “forever chemical” and UAP (unidentified aerial phenomenon).

But food words are often the most fun, and the ones added this year reflect the ever-evolving culture of food and restaurants in the United States.

We’re glad to see “cheffy” make the list. It’s defined as “characteristic of or befitting a professional chef.” “Smashburger” is official now, too, and really needs no definition. Another word that often shows up in our news stories is “stage,” which is “an unpaid internship in a professional kitchen that is part of a chef’s training.”

Many other food words added to the dictionary this year include dishes from Mexican, Italian, Indonesian, West African and South American cuisines, like “torta,” “guanciale” (a cured Italian meat product typically made with pork jowls and spices), “emping” (a slightly bitter cracker or chip popular in Indonesia that is made from the dried flattened seed of a melinjo tree), “jollof rice” and “chicha” (South American and Central American beer made chiefly from fermented corn.)

For a larger sampling of the new words and their definitions, go to merriam-webster.com/wordplay/new-words-in-the-dictionary.

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