Each year the American Dialect Society names its Words of the Year in various categories.
Word of the Year is interpreted in its broader sense as “vocabulary item”—not just words but phrases. The words or phrases do not have to be brand-new, but they have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year.
There are other bodies which announce a Word of the Year, including the Australian version by the Macquarie Dictionary, but the American Dialect Society’s is the longest running and the only one not affiliated with a commercial interest. There is, of course, a heavy American bias in the ADS’s choice of words.
In 2009 the American Dialect Society voted “tweet” (noun, a short message sent via the Twitter.com service, and verb, the act of sending such a message) as the word of the year and “ google” (a generic form of “Google,” meaning “to search the Internet) as its word of the decade.
For the 21st awards in 2010, the categories, nominees and winners are set out below. The number after each nomination is the number of votes it received. Numbers separated by slash marks indicate a run-off. Voting totals for each category might not be identical because the number of voters might have changed for each category.
WORD OF THE YEAR
app: application program for a computer or phone operating system. As in "there’s an app for that," an advertising slogan for the iPhone. 52/69 WINNER
nom: Onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably. Can be used as an interjection or noun to refer to delicious food. 34/51.
junk as used in junk shot (attempt to fix BP oil spill), junk status (Greece’s credit rating), don’t touch my junk (protest against TSA pat-down procedure). 17
Wikileaks as proper noun, common noun, and verb. 12
trend verb: to exhibit a burst of online buzz. 12
nom Onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably. Can be used as an interjection or noun to refer to delicious food. 49/72 WINNER
fat-finger verb: to mistype, as by accidentally striking more than one key on a keyboard/pad. 16
junk junk shot (attempt to fix BP oil spill), junk status (Greece’s credit rating), don’t touch my junk (protest against TSA pat-down procedure). 46/42
vuvuzela South African plastic trumpet used by fans during the FIFA World Cup matches.
prehab Preemptive enrollment in a rehab facility to prevent relapse of an abuse problem. 45/65 WINNER
-sauce Intensive suffix, as in awesome-sauce ‘great’ and lame-sauce ‘stupid’. 37/51
spillion An immense number, especially of gallons of oil in the Gulf spill. Also spillionaire, person made rich by money from BP’s spill cleanup fund. 29
phoenix firm A troubled company that reemerges under a new name. 13
refudiate Blend of refute and repudiate used by Sarah Palin on Twitter. 72/WINNER
ironic moustache Facial hair worn as a statement of retro hipsterdom. 6
star whacker Imagined celebrity killer (alleged by actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi). 16
hipsterdom: the state of being hip beyond all recognition. So hip you're unhip. 14
gate rape Pejorative term for invasive new airport pat-down procedure. 55/67 WINNER
terror baby Baby born to a terrorist family on U.S. soil in order to establish citizenship. 52/56
bed intruder Perpetrator of a home invasion in Huntsville, Ala., made famous by viral video. 22
kinetic event Pentagon term for violent attacks on troops in Afghanistan. 84/WINNER
corn sugar Corn Refiners Association’s rebranding of high fructose corn syrup. 1.
enhanced pat-down TSA’s term for controversial new frisking procedure. 21
bed intruder Perpetrator of a home invasion in Huntsville, Ala., made famous by viral video. 19
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
trend Verb: to exhibit a burst of online buzz. 73/WINNER
hacktivism Using computer hacking skills as a form of political or social activism. 34
-pad Combining form used by iPad and other tablet computers (ViewPad, WindPad, etc.). 22
telework Term used at federal level for work by an employee away from the office. 9
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
culturomics Research project from Google analysing the history of language and culture 44/85 WINNER
fauxhemian Winner of a Gawker poll to replace the term “hipster.” 31
skyaking Jumping out of a plane in a kayak. 47/33
top kill / top hat / junk shot Various failed techniques to fix the BP oil spill. 11
ELECTION TERMS (new category)
All terms agreed to be losers. The entire category was deleted by acclamation.
Aqua Buddha Fictitious deity in collegiate scandal involving Rand Paul, raised during his Kentucky Senate campaign.
mama grizzly Sarah Palin’s term for a fiercely conservative female candidate.
man up Exhortation to be responsible or “act like a man,” used by Sharron Angle against Harry Reid in Nevada Senate race.
Obamacare Pejorative term for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
FAN WORDS (new category)
gleek A fan of the TV show “Glee” (Glee + geek) 90 WINNER
belieber A fan of pop singer Justin Bieber (Bieber + believer) 3
little monster A fan of pop singer Lady Gaga, so called by the singer herself. 0
Twihard A fan of the “Twilight” books and movies. 7
Yat Dat A native-born fan of the New Orleans Saints. 14
The list of past Words of the Year is set out below. It is not only an interesting look at the continuing development of the English language but also a list aofwhat has been to the forefront in history from time to time.
• 1990: bushlips (similar to “bullshit” " – stemming from President George H W Bush’s 1988 “read my lips: no new taxes” broken promise)
• 1991: The mother of all (as in Saddam Hussein’s's foretold “Mother of all battles”)
• 1992: Not! (meaning "just kidding")
• 1993: information superhighway
• 1994: cyber, morph (to change form)
• 1995: Web and (to) newt (to act aggressively as a newcomer).
• 1996: mom (as in "soccer mom”)
• 1997: millenium bug
• 1998: e- (as in “e-mail”)
• 1999: Y2K
• 2000: chad (from the 200 Presidential election controversy in Florida)
• 2001: 9-11
• 2002: weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
• 2003: metrosexual
• 2004: red state, blue state, purple state (from the 2004 presidential election)
• 2005: truthiness, popularised on The Colbert Report
• 2006: plutoed (demoted or devalued, as happened to the former planet Pluto).
• 2007: subprime (an adjective used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment)
• 2008: bailout (a rescue by government of a failing corporation)
• 2009: tweet (a short message sent via the Twitter service)
• 2010: app
All past winners in all categories can be read t (page 4 onwards):