Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Upcycle - Catching on Quite Well

First, a little background: A week or so ago Etsy tweeted:
"I love the word upcycle and what it connotes. Recycling uses something again, upcycling transforms it so it’s even better than before."

I responded:
"Agreed! I wish ‘upcycle’ would be considered a real word to the spell checker so it’s not always underlined in red when I type it."

Junkprints chimed in:
"We should submit ‘upcycle’ to the word Nazis and get it recognized as a real word"

and Etsy suggested:
"Everyone go make friends with someone who works on the OED"
And added this link to a blog post about a quest to get 'food coma' into the EOD.

Since I'm a little short on friends who work for the OED, I emailed the Merriam Webster people:

I was wondering if there are any plans to add the word 'upcycle' to your dictionary? It is a term coined by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, authors of Cradle to Cradle. Upcycling is the process of converting an industrial nutrient (material) into something of similar or greater value, in its second life.

I actually heard back!!
"Upcycle" is one of the many words we're currently tracking, but our evidence for this use of it (the term is also sometimes used to refer to an upward trend in business activity) is quite limited. I'll add the text of your e-mail to our files, though, and will also do some digging to see what else I can find. The little bit I've seen in the Lexis-Nexis database so far shows that the word as used by McDonough and Braungart is catching on quite well.

Upcycle is a 'real word' to me and I use it often. Although I'm not holding my breath for inclusion in the next edition, it was nice to hear that it's on their radar and perhaps someday will be defined to a wider audience. Until then it's up to us. Spread the word about the word! Use the 'upcycle' today!


Cathy said...

I use that word a lot in my home staging business and the definition remains the same - to make better what was once old/worn. Congrats! It takes many to make things happen. We'll keep on using it even if Webster or others don't catch on as quickly.
Cathy http://final-touchdesigns.com

Robin Marie said...

Upcycle is definitely a word in my vocabulary, and I use frequently. It's cool to see that you heard back! It puts a face on that big book!

reiter8 said...

I know! I wasn't sure I'd hear back and their response was relatively quick. (I admit, it sat in my spam folder for a day or two.)

Upcycle has a subtle but important nuance vs recycle - keep using it!!