Merriam-Webster announced a new word in its dictionary – sheeple, for which it used Apple users as a reference to explain its meaning.
Sheeple, the written combination of sheep and people, is described as an informal word that defines “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced” and thereby “likened to sheep.”
‘Sheeple’ is in the dictionary now. https://t.co/pbXVADEoBm
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) April 27, 2017
The first example of the word used in a sentence is your regular, run-of-the-mill example:
“James Nichols, who ran the family farm here, stamped dollar bills with red ink in protest against currency and told his neighbors that they were “sheeple” for obeying authority like livestock.” – Sara Rimer and James Bennet
However, the second example is much more interesting and possibly offensive:
“Apple’s debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone—an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for.” – Doug Criss
Merriam-Webster, an American company that publishes reference books, especially known for its dictionaries, dates back all the way to the 19th century (1843, to be precise). It says the first usage of the word “sheeple” was back in 1945. This was obviously long before Apple was founded as a company and started manufacturing Macs, iPods, iPhones, and a whole range of its devices.
It’s unclear if someone in Merriam-Webster is mad at Apple (namely, Doug Criss, the author of the questionable example) for not meeting expectations. The company didn’t provide a response to the unusual example, even though some Twitter users have pointed out it might be offensive to its users. A much larger portion of Twitter-verse found the example rather funny and accurate.
For what it’s worth, the word’s popularity seems to fall within the bottom 10 percent of the entire dictionary catalog.