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Merriam-Webster Adds ‘Metaverse’ and ‘Altcoin’ to Dictionary in Nod to Crypto

9 Sep, 20222 min readAltcoins
Merriam-Webster Adds ‘Metaverse’ and ‘Altcoin’ to Dictionary in Nod to Crypto

The United State’s oldest dictionary publisher is making room for crypto.

Of the new terms added, “altcoin” and “metaverse” are perhaps the most relevant additions for crypto enthusiasts.

The publisher defined “altcoin” as any of the now roughly 20,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation “that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin.”

This definition may come as a disappointment to Ethereans, who have argued for years that Ethereum—alongside Bitcoin—is no longer an altcoin. The second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap also leads the crypto community in developer activity, fee volume, decentralized finance, and other metrics.

According to the company’s list of September additions, the “metaverse” is “a persistent virtual environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities.”

This is as opposed to “meatspace,” officially defined as “the physical world and environment, especially as contrasted with the virtual world of cyberspace.”

The dictionary’s stamp of approval may also bring clarity to a once foggy phrase for the general public.

Mark Zuckerberg—who rebranded his company around the concept last year—has previously defined the metaverse as “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.”

Crypto-related technologies like non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which earned Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year award in 2021, play a big role in the metaverse. They help provide a neutral layer for owning digital assets that are transferable between different virtual worlds.

Current examples include metaverse games like The Sandbox, which lets users buy and sell virtual assets in the form of a game.

Merriam-Webster takes a page from crypto Twitter

Webster’s list included hundreds of other financial terms that you’re likely to see on crypto Twitter.

Words such as “unbanked” and “underbanked” refer to individuals with no or limited access to banking services.

Meanwhile, “shrinkflation” is the reduction of a product’s volume per unit despite being offered at the same price. This is related to “inflation,” which has been central in directing central banking activity, global markets, and by extension, crypto markets.

Finally, “use case” refers to “a use to which something can be put,” something crypto’s harshest critics claim the asset class fundamentally lacks.

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