If anyone knows words, it should be the fine people at the Merriam-Webster company, who publish a variety of dictionaries. Each year, it seems, they scour the culture to search out those new words and phrases that have come into common use, and this year they’ve added more than 100 new entries to their Collegiate Dictionary (according to a story in the July 7 Dallas Morning News).
Among the new entries for the latest edition:
Air quotes is defined as “gestures made by raising and flexing the index and middle fingers of both hands, used to call attention to a spoken word or expression.” If this is an appropriate entry, then I’d suggest they also add bop you one, which is what my dad did to “call attention” to my failure to obey promptly.
Dirty bomb is a “bomb designed to release radioactive material.” Those of us who have been youth ministers will also recognize the term in reference to the bags of laundry collected after a week at youth camp.
Malware is defined as “software designed to interfere with a computer’s normal functioning.” This would be in contrast to simpleware, which is inexpensive software that is easy for a non-computer expert to learn and use. Oh, wait, that doesn’t exist. Never mind.
Mental health day is a “day that an employee takes off from work to relieve stress or renew vitality.” Pastors know this by the term Saturday.
Subprime is a term we’re hearing a lot of these days, since it refers to loans with an interest rate higher than the prime rate, typically offered to low-income borrowers. Preachers also recognize the term subprime as defining the level of interest the congregation showed in that last sermon series on tithing.
Wing nut is a new dictionary entry that is slang for “one who advocates extreme measures or changes.” In church life, it is also slang for former pastor.
With all these fascinating new words entering the secular dictionaries, surely there must be a few new terms from church life worthy of consideration, such as . . .
Deaconomics-the economic theory by which any increase in the pastor’s salary is summarily denied.
Screenopoly-the trend toward use of one or more projection screens in the church to display hymn texts, sermon notes, and the kickoff when the pastor’s sermon is running long.
Tithectomy-the act of successfully obtaining a tithe of a new member’s income. This is in contrast to the act of successfully obtaining a tithe from a longstanding member who has never previously given, also known as wishful thinking.


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About The Author


Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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