There are two words I have come across quite a bit lately, and you won't find them in an older print dictionary. They are words that express new cultural patterns and sensibilities. Language is always a work in progress and adapts to new ways of thinking. Shakespeare may be difficult to understand, while the more recent language of Charles Dickens may simply sound old fashioned. But both are proof that we think and speak differently now than then. Think of how the meaning of the word gayhas changed over time. In addition to such shifts in meaning, we also invent brand new words for ideas and products that didn't exist previously.
Othering, used as a verb, is such a new word. It refers to putting up a mental and verbal barrier, or depersonalizing an entire group of people or even animals, when we distinguish them as "them, not us," or as other. It is a term that has become so relevant in an age of bipartisanship, binarism, divisiveness, and the reduction of issues to either wrong or right. While the word otheris of course not new, using it as a verb, as in othering, is new.
Woke is the second word. Woke is a word of African-American origin that means being aware and awakened to social and cultural issues of change. The word's meaning hasn't changed much, but it has entered mainstream language and awareness.
It is interesting to experience language changing right in front of my eyes. Woke and otheringwere not in my vocabulary and awareness a few years ago, yet the need to express what these words convey has birthed them and spread their use. Do you know any new words?