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February 8th, 2017

‘Open Source’ Is Now a Word?

So far there’s been no news on Microsoft’s reaction to “open source” being officially recognized by the arbiters of the English language.

open source distionary

“Open source” is now officially a word according to Merriam-Webster, according to my good friends at Ars Technica. Actually, I don’t know anybody at Ars Technica, but whenever you’re stealing news from another news source, you’re traditionally allowed to refer to everyone who works there as “my good friends.” The theory is that if they think you’re a friend of theirs, they won’t sue you.

I say “according to Ars” because I can’t find proof anywhere that “open source” was indeed just added to the dictionary, as it’s not included as an example in the article my good friends at Merriam-Webster posted announcing the introduction of 1,000 new words on Tuesday. Or, if it’s there, the “find” function on my browser couldn’t find it, which would be really strange since the browser is designed and built by my good friends at Google.

This brings to mind — at least to my mind — a few questions. Does this mean that open source really didn’t exist until yesterday? Can lawsuits be brought against Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens and the Open Source Initiative for recommending — to an entire industry, not to mention millions of people — a development model that didn’t exist until now? Also, if it didn’t exist and now it does, doesn’t that imply that Red Hat has been involved is some sort of insider trading?

The biggest question, however, is does this mean that Merriam-Webster doesn’t understand the English language? Isn’t “open source” in fact two words and not one? Does this mean that from now on we’ll have to write it with a hyphen to make it a word? Very conveniently, Merriam Webster is calling it a “compound word,” which sounds to me to be suspiciously like an “alternative fact,” which to the best of my knowledge still isn’t in the dictionary, despite being used by every news outlet in the country for about a week now.

According to Ars Technica, according to Merriam-Webster there are some other great words that were added to the dictionary yesterday. Like “clickbait,” which is something the folks on Reddit often accuse FOSS Force of practicing. I’m glad it’s now in the dictionary, because it means I can look it up and finally understand what the heck they’re talking about. Another would be “click fraud,” something which our readers never practice, since every single visitor to our site seems to use some sort of ad blocking software. Other terms that the crackpot team of investigative reporters at Ars have discovered can now be said to exist are “peer-to-peer,” “rootkit,” “keylogger,” and “backward compatible.”

Wow! 1995 technology can finally be written about.

Wanting to make sure I’m not sued by Ars for plagiarizing their stuff, I did some more “research” — an archaic term for Googling — and found that my good friends at BGR have also been busy scooping us on this story — and they’ve included definitions in case a modern day Rip Van Winkle just woke up from his nap. The only word they added that wasn’t already known, however, was “abandonware,” which every WordPress user worth his or her salt deals with on a daily basis.

But wait, there’s more.

The good folks at Merriam-Webster proved their investigative reporting muscle by scooping both Ars, BGR and FOSS Force by being the very first to announce any of the 1,000 words they’ve added to the dictionary. They very cleverly didn’t list them all, however. For that you have to buy their book. They mention “listicle,” “ping,” “abandonware,” “botnet,” “photobomb” and “humblebrag,”

The last word is something I’m very good at doing, I just didn’t know there was an actual word for it until now.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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4 comments to ‘Open Source’ Is Now a Word?

  • Paul Surman

    How interesting that a famous American dictionary is at last catching up with the Oxford English Dictionary

  • tracyanne

    That’s good to know. I’ll use that word often, from now on.

  • Mike

    > ‘“abandonware,” which every WordPress user worth his or her salt deals with on a daily basis’

    That one made me chuckle, thanks. 🙂

    I find it impossible to believe ping was just added as it has several other meanings. I’m sure they just added an alternative fact…I mean additional definition.

  • Richard

    open source adj. [first published, on the Internet on 8 February 1998, by E. S. Raymond in a revised version of his paper ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’; ‘[the term] was invented by Christine Peterson of the Foresight institute at a private meeting I ran a few days earlier’ (E. S. Raymond, private communication)] Computing (chiefly attrib.) designating software for which the original program files used to compile the applications are available to users to be modified and redistributed as they wish.
    OED Definition.