Merriam-Webster throws shade on Ethereum

Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency ether (ETH) is an altcoin.

Don’t shoot the messenger, this is coming from the US’s oldest dictionary Merriam-Webster, who just listed a number of crypto-related terms in its latest lexicon update.

In fairness, the official definition a little vague, being “any of various cryptocurrencies that are regarded as alternatives to established cryptocurrencies and especially to Bitcoin,” while also providing the following addendum attributed to CoinDesk author Megan DeMatteo:

“Since then, thousands of new altcoins … have been created and added into the crypto ecosystem. “Altcoin” refers to any type of cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.”

Ethereum stans (Merriam-Webster added that one in 2019, meaning “an extremely or excessively enthusiastic and devoted fan”) would disagree; they’ve long contended that Ethereum shouldn’t be lumped together with the other altcoins, given its primacy as the largest smart contract platform by a wide margin.

They’d best avoid Investopedia too, who currently defines altcoins as: “all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin (BTC).”

Maybe The Merge will result in the flippening (that fabled moment when ETH overtakes BTC as the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation) and the dictionary will eat its words.

‘Metaverse’ has also made it into Merriam-Webster with this definition: “A persistent virtual environment that allows access to and interoperability of multiple individual virtual realities.”

I’m not sure that will sate the uninitiated, though this quote from writer Edd Gent offers some clarity:

“To its proponents, the metaverse is the natural evolution of the internet. They envisage a sprawling network of interconnected virtual worlds for such diverse activities as gaming, watching live entertainment… and collaborating on design projects.”

You can also visit a rudimentary Eiffel Tower or La Sagrada Familia, but MS seems to have missed the memo.

 The image used by Mark Zuckerberg when launching Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse was called basic by some, cursed by others – Source:

Also added was ‘unbanked’ which, while not strictly a crypto-related term, has been co-opted by the community as a badge of honour and rallying cry against traditional finance.

As in “Unbank Yourself”, the company motto of Celsius Network, typically seen splashed across founder Alex Mashinsky’s t-shirts.

That was until Celsius crashed and burned and the unbanked became insolvent, sadly at the expense of dedicated retail investors.

If we’re stretching, terraform, which was just added, could be considered a crypto-related term, as in: Terraform Labs just crashed the entire crypto economy.

Here are some other personal favourites just added:

  • Adorkable informal: socially awkward or quirky in a way that is endearing
  • Greenwash verb: to make (something, such as a product, policy, or practice) appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really
  • Hoglet chiefly British: a baby hedgehog
  • Yeet interjection, slang: used to express surprise, approval, or excited enthusiasm