Terms including “plant-based” and “oat milk” have officially been added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Plant-based, which is thought to have been first used in language in 1960, is given two definitions in the dictionary.
The first is “made or derived from plants,” and the dictionary cites “plant-based burger” as an example. The second definition is “consisting primarily or entirely of food (such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils, and beans) derived from plants.”
Merriam-Webster defines oat milk as “a liquid made from ground oats and water that is usually fortified (as with calcium and vitamins) and used as a milk substitute.” The first known use of the term oat milk was in the 1980s.
The two terms fall under the food category, and have been added alongside the popular autumn flavor “pumpkin spice.”
In addition to this, Merriam-Webster has also added “greenwashing.” This denotes the process of attempting to make something appear more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
The history of Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster has been publishing dictionaries since 1847, and first launched its online version in 1996.
The dictionary is regularly updated with new words and phrases, and in recent years additions have included “selfie,” “cancel culture,” and “hygge.”
This year’s 370 new words and terms also include “booster dose,” “sus,” and “lewk.”
“The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes, which means new words and definitions must continually be added,” reads a statement from Merriam-Webster. “When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion.”
The rise of the plant-based movement
The new additions were undoubtedly prompted by the rise of plant-based eating. This year saw a huge 629,000 people sign up for Veganuary, up from 580,000 the previous year.
According to research from 2021, there are approximately 79 million vegans in the world.
Oat milk has also seen a staggering increase in popularity, with sales doubling from 2019 to 2020. The oat milk industry alone has been forecast to be worth $6.45 billion by 2028.
The drink is hugely popular among vegans and non-vegans alike.
A study published earlier this year even found that almost half of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) felt shame when ordering dairy milk. The study also found that more than half intended to give it up over the next year.