Just when you though the mobile operating system flame wars of yesteryear had at last subsided, think again. This morning, Merriam-Webster gleefully tweeted a new addition to its online dictionary: “sheeple,” or “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced.” You might not immediately draw a connection to one particular proclivity over another, but Merriam-Webster takes the liberty of quoting CNN technology columnist Doug Criss.
“Apple's debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone — an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for,” the example reads. It’s from a 2015 news roundup Criss published on CNN’s website, which Merriam-Webster seems to point to as a prime example of the popular modern-day use of the term. Sheeple dates back to 1945, according to the dictionary entry, most likely as a derogatory term for helpless followers of consumer trends of the time. Nowadays, however, it’s more likely to poke fun at blind followers of the iPhone maker.
You’d think that characterization might not irk your average Apple fanboy — another Merriam-Webster term — these days if not for the the company’s rather peculiar product mishaps and design misfires over the last couple of years. As Criss pointed out at the time, there’s the bulging and ugly iPhone battery case. Yet there’s also the mouse that can only be charged upside down and the Apple Pencil stylus that regains power from the Lightning port of an iPad.
More recently, we have the $159 wireless AirPod headphones that can fall out of yours ears and the 5K UltraFine monitor made in partnership with LG that didn’t play nice with routers. Oh, and how could we forget the unceremonious removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
Apple design isn’t quite what it used to be, it seems, and yet the company keeps posting record sales. So while we haven’t had a good iPhone vs. Android or Mac vs. PC debate in a while, maybe we’re overdue for a little flame-stoking. Merriam-Webster seems to think so.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly cited the price of AirPods at $180. The wireless earbuds are in fact $159.