View Full Version : Word of the year

01-20-2010, 11:01 PM
Courtesy of the January 1 Times Literary Supplement (no link -- the meanies don't let non-subscribers see much), I read that Oxford University Press has chosen "unfriend" as the Word of the Year. I had no idea they were in charge of that particular contest. The say unfriend "has real lex-appeal" (ha ha).

The TLS, always ready with the witty riposte, points out that the usage is quite old. We find the word in King Lear, at least as a participle, anyway, when the troubled old coot tries to unload Cordelia on the Duke of Burgundy:

"Will you, with those infirmities she owes,
Unfriended, new-adopted to our hate
Take her . . . or leave her?"

I read once that Shakespeare is responsible for coining more new words in English than is any other author. His times saw a lot of ferment in the English language, but we've got plenty of that now.

Any nominations for Word of the Year?

Ruv Draba
01-23-2010, 12:29 PM
Some suggestions from Australia's Macquarie Dictionary (http://www.macquariedictionary.com.au/anonymous@9c92D5894979/-/p/dict/WOTY09/index.html):

rumourtrage: the spreading of a false rumour, such as that of an impending takeover, as a means of manipulating the stock market to gain advantage. [rumour + (arbi)trage]

head-nodder: a supporter of a politician or other media figure who stands beside them in the frame of a television shot and nods his or her head in agreement with what the speaker is saying.

media punking: the tricking of the media into believing a false story. [media1 + punk2 (def. 9)]

peak soil: that point in time when the world's soil for agriculture is not sufficient to sustain crop productivity, either through loss of topsoil or depletion of nutrients.

slacktivism: activity to promote a cause which requires little effort on the part of the supporter, as signing online petitions, wearing awareness bracelets, etc., and which may have no real effect other than creating a sense of involvement for the supporter. [slack(er) + (ac)tivism]

eco-coffin: noun a coffin made from a material that is environmentally friendly, as recycled cardboard, bamboo, etc., in that it does not use up diminishing resources and biodegrades easily in the ground.

roar factor: the influence that a home crowd has on a referee or umpire in making adjudications. [from the roar of protest from the crowd at a perceived infringement by a player]

Some selected words from 2008:

bromance: Colloquial a non-sexual but intense friendship between two males.

[B]lawfare: the use of international law by a country to attack or criticise another country, especially a superior military power, on moral grounds, that is, by accusing it of having violated international law. [(international) law + (war)fare]

flashpacker: a backpacker who travels in relative luxury. [flash(y) + (back)packer]

01-24-2010, 07:09 AM
I vote for lawfare.

01-25-2010, 10:23 PM
head-nodder had me cracking up; that's what my grandpa calls them too. I vote for that.

Flashpacker and slacktivism could possibly describe the same individual. :D Too bad spell-check doesn't recognize those words. . . yet.

Ruv Draba
01-26-2010, 01:35 AM
Online dictionary supplier Merriam-Webster tracks Words of the Year by peak hit rate. The Word of the Year for 2009 (http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/09words.htm) is:

The word of the year that received the highest intensity of searches over the shortest period of time is "admonish."

"Admonish shot to the top of the list three days after Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during a speech made by President Obama, and it remained among our top lookups for weeks," said Peter A. Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's Editor at Large. "When the House announced plans to 'admonish' Rep. Wilson, the word was understood to be technical or official, and it has been repeated often in coverage of recent contentious political issues. While this particular story wasn't very important in the context of a year's worth of news, it triggered enormous interest in this word."

But 2007 (http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/07words.htm) was a far more interesting year for the M-W webmaster. The word that peaked largest then was:

w00t (http://www3.merriam-webster.com/opendictionary06/newword_search.php?word=w00t)

Ruv Draba
01-26-2010, 01:39 AM
Also from M-W, and one that shouldn't be neglected in a writing forum:

Sardoodledom (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sardoodledom)

Etymology: sardoodle- (blend of Victorien Sardou died 1908 French playwright criticized by G. B. Shaw died 1950 English playwright for the supposed staginess of his plays and English doodle) + -dom

: mechanically contrived plot structure and stereotyped or unrealistic characterization in drama : STAGINESS (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/staginess), MELODRAMA (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melodrama) <the authors of the world's great plays are not mere tricksters in Sardoodledom -- John Mason Brown>

In 2007 it came (quite understandably) at number 6 after our friend w00t.