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This Food Word Was Just Added to the Dictionary

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Just last week, the Oxford English Dictionary added 1,100 entries to their linguistic cache as part of a quarterly update. Included among the list of new words and phrases, one in particular caught our attention: Hangry is now officially a word.

We’ve all seen (or felt) it happen. The irritation that sets in after going a little too long without food. Your blood sugar dips, your temper boils. Hangry, a portmanteau of hunger and anger, describes a bad mood brought about by a lack of food. The official definition reads: “Bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”

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The Foods Merriam-Webster Just Added to the Dictionary
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The Foods Merriam-Webster Just Added to the Dictionary

In recent years the word has seemed to balloon in popularity. It’s distinct from more serious cases of chronic hunger or starvation, but rather, is used colloquially to describe something a bit more temporary. Say, an irritable friend who can’t be bothered before lunch or a short-fused uncle who can’t hold a conversation until they eat breakfast. Katherine Connor Martin, the head of U.S. Dictionaries at Oxford, had this to say about the word’s surprising history:

“It is only in the 21st century that the word hangry, a blend of hungry and angry used colloquially to mean ‘bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger’, has entered common use. However, the earliest known evidence for the word dates from 1956, in an unusual article in the psychoanalytic journal American Imago that describes various kinds of deliberate and accidental wordplay. The author mentions hangry in a discussion of words formed by contraction or elision. Some of these, like brunch, were already established at the time, but most of them, such as criumph (a crime triumph), and sexperience (sexual experience) have still not caught on with the English-speaking public.”

Hmm, interesting. It seems people have been trying to justify their bad moods with a lack of food for a while now. Well now, they can officially! As our culture shifts, so too do the words we use to describe it. Hangry is only one of the many words gaining this recognition. The list also includes mansplaining, swag, and me time.

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Do you ever get hangry? Tell us your horror stories in the comments below.