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600 REASONS TO CRACK NEW DICTIONARY

Tried any fartleks lately? Maybe you made a gazillion attempts but prefer being a domestique, wheeling through ecotourism spots rife with ixora.

Reaching for the dictionary? Luckily, you'll find these words among the 600 entries in the first "new-words section" of the revised Random House Webster's College Dictionary.The $23.95 hardcover dictionary is the fifth revision of the Random House Webster's College Dictionary since its publication in 1991. Random House's original college dictionary - the American College Dictionary - came out in 1947.

"They are not necessarily new words but words that for some reason or another just never made it into the main body of text," mostly for lack of space, said Sol Steinmetz, head wordmeister at Random House Reference & Information Publishing.

Any die-hard runner can tell you that fartleks - a training technique involving bursts of effort alternating with less strenuous exercise - have been around for some time. And no, a domestique is not a French maid who wears sassy little skirts, but a cyclist who sets the pace and provides food and support for team members.

You've probably heard gazillion innumerable times, of course, but never seen it in a Random House dictionary. As for ecotourism and ixora, environmentalists may know the former as trips to places with unspoiled natural resources and the latter as tropical shrubs with glossy leaves and showy flowers.

Computer technology weighs in with an abundance of new terms like bustopology, expansion card, netiquette and screen saver. There also are business phrases like flex dollars and tax deferred annuity.

"Dictionaries are the indexes of current society and the words we use reflect society's concerns," Steinmetz said Wednesday.

Thus: shaken baby syndrome, drive-by shooting, deadbeat dad and Megan's Law.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

From bustopology to gazillion to viatical

A random selection of 10 of the 600 new words - and their definitions - contained in the revised Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 1996 edition.

- Bustopology, n. An arrangement of computers on a local-area network in which each computer is connected to a central cable through which data is channeled.

- Ciguatera, n. A tropical disease caused by ingesting a poison found in certain marine fishes.

- Ecotourism, n. Tourism to places having unspoiled natural resources.

- Gazillion, n. An extremely large, indeterminate number.

- Kleptocracy, n. A government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves.

- Netiquette, n. The etiquette of computer networks, especially the Internet.

- Rocumentary, n. A documentary about rock musicians.

- Sheesh, interj. Used to express exasperation.

- Slacker, n. An educated young person who is antimaterialistic, purposeless, apathetic and usually works in a dead-end job.

- Viatical, adj. Of or pertaining to a form of insurance business that pays off on the insurance policies of the terminally ill.