Bombogenesis -- and other new words

New Words and How to Find 'Em

"Bombogenesis."  Did you run across this word last week?  I heard that word on the radio and wanted to know
right away what it meant.  Turns out it's a weather word. 

Remember how the East Coast started January with the "polar vortex" while we basked in our freakishly warm weather?  Well, after the polar vortex had gone away, in came "bombogenesis."  According to -- a website that I really like -- "bombogenesis" describes a storm that usually forms over water.  Cold and warm air clash, causing the storm to intensify rapidly.  In a bombogenesis the atmospheric pressure at the center of the storm must drop 24 millibars in 24 hours.  Drops like a bomb. Weather experts also call this kind of storm an "extratropical surface cyclone." 

But back to this nifty new word. What sources do librarians use to find out what new words mean?  Our old friend the print dictionary isn't going to help us with the new stuff or the some of the most specialized stuff.  Here are a few of the online tools that we use when print is not the right place to go.  One place to start is with a site you're probably using anyway: Google.  Type "define" into the search box with the word you're looking up and Google will send back a definition and links to websites using it or defining it in greater depth.  Another good source is Wiktionary. With its "Word of the Day" and "Foreign Word of the Day" you can go here to broaden your vocabulary. Merriam-Webster, the print dictionary people, have an electronic presence that's worth a visit. To keep your slang up-to-the-minute look no further than the Urban Dictionary.

What do you do when you run into a word that's new to you?  Leave us a comment!


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