Real Estate

‘Underwater’ is now officially a word

The ultimate proof that the U.S. housing crisis has permanently infiltrated the collective psyche of an entire country? That’s easy.

Look no further the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which today announced its latest annual update of new words.

Among them is “underwater,” which now means much more than it used to. From our friends at the Daily Beast:

7. underwater adj. (1672): having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth.

Really took off when the housing bubble burst. There was an earlier sense referring to assets in general that was in use in the early 1990s, but we all became familiar with this term in 2006 and 2007 when homeowners were suddenly shackled to properties that were worth far less than the outstanding mortgage on them. A very visual play on the idea of “staying afloat” and “sinking” financially.

Now that “gastropub” and “sexting” are also officially words, according to Merriam-Webster, I only want to know when some other finance and mortgage-centric words make it into the common vernacular. You know, words like “shadow inventory” and “ZIRP.” 

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