The American Dialect Society’s word-of-the-year vote—the longest-running such vote anywhere—takes place in Chicago in January at its annual meeting. The academic society is now accepting word-of-the-year nominations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. Your nominations do not have to be brand-new, but they should be newly prominent or notable in the past year, and should have appeared frequently in the national discourse. The word-of-the-year vote is not a formal induction of words into the American language, but a whimsical affair. It’s also not an accumulation of life-long peeves and gripes. Nominate accordingly.
Some of my nominations (at least, the ones I’ve already revealed publicly) are:
toe-tapper n. a homosexual. Arises out of the Senator Larry Craig scandal.
wide stance, to have a v. phr. to be be hypocritical. Also out of the Craig scandal.
windshield cowboy n. a cattle rancher who works while driving a pickup truck instead of riding a horse; generally, a mildly deprecating term for an aspiring rancher who is considered a pretender. Used by First Lady Laura Bush to describe her husband.
jailbreak n. to legally hack an electronic device closed by the manufacture so that it will run programs installed by the user. Used largely by jailbreakers of Apple’s iPhone.
snus n. a kind of smokeless tobacco that comes in little sachets.
lolcat n. an odd or funny picture of a cat given a humorous and intentionally ungrammatical caption in large block letters.
I don’t know, Grant. I’m holding out for “lecondel” and “facebook” used as a transitive verb.
(I know they may not meet the ADS’s criteria, but I like ‘em both.)
What do the rest of you think?
I like “lecondel”, and I’d love to find a context to use it. (Bonus points if I learn Hebrew.)
I’d like “toe-tapper” and “wide stance”, but has anyone actually used them?
“Snus” just seems like legitimizing branding.
“Jailbreak” I’ve seen used, but it seems too generic. On the other hand, I think people have used “bricking” to refer to what happens when such devices are rendered useless. (Did I hear that on the show?)
Brick meaning generally to fail is at least 20 years old, with the electronic device sense going back at least to 2004. “Jailbreak,” on the other hand, seems to be very much newly popular.
Yes, “wide stance” and “toe tapper” are both being used in this way. “Toe tapper” was notoriously used like this by the New York Post.
I think you may be right about “snus,” but I have yet to really dig into it.
“Windshield cowboy” is much more concise, but I still prefer someone else’s description of Bush, the soi-disant rancher, as “all hat and no cattle.” Bush’s property in Texas has been outed as never having been a working ranch, since the only livestock it ever entertained were five longhorns on temporary loan from somewhere, now all departed.
My personal Word Of The Year was an entry to an old edition of the Washington Post Style Invitational, where the challenge was to change a single letter of a common word to produce a new word, and give the definition. The entry was “ignoranus,” which was defined as someone who is both stupid and an asshole.
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