*Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary just had an “aha moment.”
The catch phrase, made famous by Oprah Winfrey to signify a sudden shot of clarity, was one of 100 new words or phrases added to the publication for its annual update.
The first reference of “aha moment” found by Merriam-Webster researchers dates to 1939 in a book of psychology. Its use was sporadic until the ’90s, when Winfrey began using it on her daytime talk show.
“In fact, aha moment is so closely associated with Oprah that in 2009, she and Mutual of Omaha got involved in a legal imbroglio over Mutual of Omaha’s use of the phrase, with Oprah claiming that aha moment was her catchphrase and she had the rights to it,” said Kory Stamper, a Merriam-Webster associate editor. The case was settled out of court in 2009.
In all, the company picks about 100 additions for the 114-year-old dictionary’s annual update, gathering evidence of usage over several years in everything from media to the labels of beer bottles and frozen food.
Other terms added this year: F-bomb, earworms (songs you can’t get out of your head) and flexitarian (one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish). Others include craft beer, e-reader, game changer, a new definition for “gassed” as slang for drained of energy, gastropub, geocaching, shovel-ready (a construction site ready for work) and tipping point.