'Fintech' wins dictionary status in US ­ but not in Scandinavia

The word fintech has now been added to the well-known American Merriam-Webster dictionary. However, the portmanteau word has not yet made it into any Scandinavian dictionary.
Photo: Colourbox
Photo: Colourbox

Fintech is a portmanteau word of financial technology, being one that combines the meanings of two other words. Now, the word has been added to the well-known American dictionary Merriam-Webster.

The dictionary defines the term as: "products and companies that employ newly developed digital and online technologies in the banking and financial services industries".

According to news service Fintextra, Merriam-Webster comments:

"Then, gradually, a word’s use spreads to the rest of us. Every word moves at its own pace; there is no average speed for a word’s acceptance into the language, the culture, and the dictionary. The dictionary’s job is to report that usage as it enters the general vocabulary."

It is not yet possible to find the word in a Danish dictionary. However, the The Danish Language Council recommends that users write "fintek" instead of "fintech".


Any word needs to have a certain dissemination before it can be added to the Danish dictionary, The Danish Language Council states.

Words also need to appear in different types of texts in newspapers, magazines and on the internet and not only in academic textbooks.

Still, it can be a good idea to add the word to the dicitonary. Deputy head of The Danish Language Council, Anita Ågerup Jervelund, says:

"We may consider adding the word to the dictionary. If there are problems spelling the word, it could be a reason to include it in the Danish spelling dictionary".

Used by professionals

In Norway the message is the same. The word is not included in any Norwegian dictionary or list of terms.

"Fintech seems to be used as a term in texts by professionals. If we find the word in general texts, fintech is often quoted or explained. The word is not part of the Norwegian general language today, nor will it be judged as a current candidate to enter the general language dictionaries. This can obviously change over the years to come," the Norwegian language council writes in an email.

"We believe that 'finansteknologi', which is the Norwegian term for financial technology, is preferred as this is semantically more transparent and more in line with established patterns of vocabulary in Norwegian," the council says.

The word 'fintech' is not to be found in any of the Swedish dictionaries either, according to The Language Council of Sweden, and the Institute for the Languages of Finland writes in an email that the word's exclusion is obvious ­ being not Finnish but (mainly) English.

"The Finnish translation would be 'talousteknologia', but this has not yet been added to the Finnish dictionary," the institute says.

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