And the word of the year is …

Oxford announced its Word of the Year today, plus the list of runners-up (which included, in alphabetical order: aging in place, bacn, cloudware, colony collapse disorder, cougar, MRAP vehicle, mumblecore, social graph, tase (or taze), previvor, and upcycling).
It's always fun to be involved in picking the word of the year, although after two years of researching, arguing, persuading, and negotiating (not to mention the concentrated application of some world-class Google-fu) to promote my candidates for Oxford's WOTY (2005: podcast, 2006: carbon neutral), it was a relief to let Ben Zimmer take over the heavy lifting … and it means I can do a little second-guessing and show you some of the words on my list that didn't make it to the short list. Call them the runners-up to the runners-up, a sort of semi-honorable mention.
There weren't many, but the ones too good to let get away include:
brick: to cause an electronic device to become permanently nonfunctional (this word got a lot of play when people's cracked iPhones were bricked by the firmware update)
hypermiler: someone who uses various driving strategies to maximize fuel efficiency
griefer: someone who deliberately promotes discord, especially in online environments
jatropha: a plant whose nuts can be used to produce biodiesel
unconference: a conference where the agenda or schedule is set by the attendees
There you have it … if you're hungry for more Word-of-the-Year (or as we call it, WOTY) action, there's always the American Dialect WOTY vote in early January. (This year it's in Chicago!)



10 thoughts on “And the word of the year is …

  1. hypermiler has been my WOTY, everytime my car glides along in neutral I yell out ‘I’m hypermilin!!’ …although my significant other finds this behavior quite annoying.


  2. Do we really need a new word or phrase for something that’s been going on since the advent of the stick shift? Is a bicycle a biomechanical personal transit system?


  3. I simply do not like the sound of “locavore.” “Eat local,” the local food movement, all that—lovely. But that new word? Hate it. We’re eating locales? Loci? Ricky Martin songs? Crazy?Is loca- an established prefix? Omnivore, omniscient. Herbivore, herbicide. Carnivore, carnival, carnal. Locavore…and what?


  4. bacn was launched very consciously and seemed a bit contrived at first but it hit the spot. I probably couldn’t handle my mail nowadays if it weren’t for my bacn-filter and getting the concept of bacn into my mind.


  5. How is “griefer” different from “troll”? Although you do make it sound like the griefer is more Machiavellian, with the troll being more bull-in-china-shop.


  6. I think you can be a troll unintentionally, by hammering away at a certain topic — being a troll is a label other people hang on you, whereas griefers go into situations with the idea of causing as much trauma as possible. Make sense?


  7. Haven’t seen you post about it yet, but I just heard that Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “w00t”. (I think it just nosed out “pwned”.)


  8. I’m with orange: “loca” as a prefix doesn’t work for this word. Locavore should mean someone who devours locales (a compulsive traveler?) or maybe locales and their resident locals (The Eggplant That Ate Cleveland).


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