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Fri 17 Jul 2009 10:03 AM

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'Shawarma' is now an English dictionary word

Arabic dish among 100 new word additions in Merriam-Webster's dictionary.

'Shawarma' is now an English dictionary word
NEW WORD: The classic shawarma combination is pita bread or taboon bread, hummus, tomato and cucumber, and the shaved meat itself.(Getty Images)

Shawarma , the popular dish and fast-food staple across the Middle East and North Africa has now found a place in one of the world’s eminent English dictionaries.

‘Shawarma’ has been included as one of the 100 new words added to the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

The online edition of the Merrian Webster dictionary describes the Shawarma thus: a sandwich especially of sliced lamb or chicken, vegetables, and often tahini wrapped in pita bread.

It sources the Shawarma's etymology as well: Levantine - Arabic shāwurma sliced lamb on a skewer, from Turkish çevir- turn.

Now a popular dish around the world, the classic shawarma combination is pita bread or taboon bread, hummus, tomato and cucumber, and the shaved meat itself. Typical additional toppings include tahini, pickled beets and amba.

Besides eating the shawarma, if you need to enjoy a bit more, you can plan a 'staycation' - a vacation spent at home or nearby. Staycation is also among the new words added to the dictionary's eleventh edition.

“Our language evolves in many ways,” John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc said in a press release last week. “As we’ve seen from our Open Dictionary feature on Merriam-Webster.com, people enjoy blending existing words, like combining ‘stay’ and ‘vacation’ to make staycation.  Staycation is a good example of a word meeting a need and establishing itself in the language very quickly.  Our earliest record of use is from 2005, but it seems to have exploded into popular use in 2007.”

“Another example of this kind of creative wordplay from this year’s list,” said Morse, “is frenemy: one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy. But, in addition to these ‘portmanteau words,’ we have added new words from more predictable categories, like science, health, technology, and popular culture, which have also seen widespread use across a variety of publications.” 

Many of the new words reflect the importance of the environment (carbon footprint, green- collar), government activities (earmark, waterboarding), health and medicine (cardioprotective, locavore, naproxen, neuroprotective), pop culture (docusoap, fan fiction, flash mob, reggaeton), and online activities (sock puppet, vlog, webisode).  Other words added include haram, memory foam, missalette, and zip line. The American dictionary offers its new 2009 entries in its updated print edition and online at Merriam-Webster.com.

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