Merriam-Webster adds ‘fatberg’ to its dictionary

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Merriam-Webster announced the addition of 533 words to its dictionary. And fatberg is amongst them.

Defined as “a large mass of fat and solid waste that collects in a sewer system,” fatberg is explained as a portmanteau of the words fat and iceberg. It was first used in 2008.

Although this news can be seen as an acknowledgement for a problem the water industry has been working hard to tackle, it also means that fatbergs are far from being a niche issue since only words with long-term potential make their way into the dictionary.

“Words can come and go in a language, but those that show staying power and increasing use need to be recorded and described. In other words: they need definitions,” says Merriam-Webster in a statement.

However, Merriam-Webster was not the first one to realise that fatberg needs a formal definition. The word is also found in the Cambridge Dictionary, the Collins English Dictionary, and the Macmillan Dictionary, which even published a broader explanation when the infamous 130-tonne fatberg was found underneath Whitechapel Road in London.

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