How will the 'sheeple' respond?
Apple fans have been called a lot of things over the years, but now it’s being called out by Merriam-Webster.
The iconic dictionary source last week announced that the word “sheeple” is now officially an English word. In its dictionary, Merriam-Webster defines sheeple as “people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced: people likened to sheep.”
Of course, sheeple has been a term used on the Internet for years to describe people who, in general, will loyally follow a person, company, or cause without necessarily considering other arguments. On the Internet, it’s generally considered an insult. It’s also been used to describe Apple fans in the past—something Merriam-Webster didn’t ignore.
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In an example of how to use sheeple in a sentence, Merriam-Webster cited CNN reporter Doug Criss, who has used the term sheeple in 2015 to describe Apple fans.
“Apple’s AAPL debuted a battery case for the juice-sucking iPhone—an ungainly lumpy case the sheeple will happily shell out $99 for,” Criss wrote at the time, according to Merriam-Webster. The dictionary-maker also cited a quote about sheeply “obeying authority like livestock.”
The iPhone maker’s fans have long been loud and supportive of the company. Dating back decades, Apple fans have been among the most loyal of any brand in the technology industry. Around the Internet, forums are alive with dedicated Apple fans who will shout down anyone even appearing to be criticizing the company, its late co-founder Steve Jobs, or its products. Tech reporters that have criticized Apple have also met the wrath of Apple’s legion of fans.
Apple fans haven’t only been called sheeple over the years. They’re also commonly called “fanboys,” another term to describe those who love the company without question.
Still, Apple fans are not alone. Other companies, including Nintendo NTDOY and Alphabet GOOGL , all have similarly dedicated fanbases. And like Apple fans, they will often speak out against those who criticize their favored companies. Those fans, however, weren’t mentioned in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
One other tidbit: According to an Oxford Dictionary listing, the term sheeple actually originated in the 1940s, decades before Apple was founded. For its part, Oxford doesn’t mention any companies in its definition.