Evolution of language

18 09 2012

Early this year, the American Dialect Society voted on the 2011 Word of the Year. Glance back through the list to see what has stayed with us and what turned out to be a passing trend. And I wonder what word will occupy us this year?  

Source: Erin Brenner and Copyediting.

And the 2011 Word of the Year Is …

Submitted by Erin Brenner on Sat, 01/07/2012 – 1:10pm


Yesterday, members of the American Dialect Society (ADS) voted occupy as the 2011 Word of the Year at their annual conference in Portland, Oregon. Of all the Word of the Year contests, the ADS’s is not only the oldest but also the most influential. Each year for 22 years, members of the society devoted to the study of language have been choosing the Word of the Year at their annual meeting.

Occupy, as a verb, noun, and combining form, refers to the recent Occupy protest movement. “It’s a very old word, but over the course of just a few months it took on another life and moved in new and unexpected directions, thanks to a national and global movement,” said Ben Zimmer, chair of ADS’s New Words Committee and executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com. “The movement itself was powered by the word.”

Nominations for Word of the Year are accepted all year by e-mailing woty@americandialect.org. Nominations can be single words or phrases. They do not have to be new, either, but they do have to be “newly prominent or notable in the past year,” according to the ADS website.

The Word of the Year contest has grown over the years and now includes subcategories. This year’s subcategory winners are:


humblebrag: expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter.


Mellencamp: a woman who has aged out of being a cougar (after John Cougar Mellencamp).


bi-winning: term used by Charlie Sheen to describe himself pridefully, dismissing accusations of being bipolar.


job creator: a member of the top one percent of moneymakers.


cloud: online space for the large-scale processing and storage of data.

OCCUPY WORDS (new category)

the 99%, 99 percenters: those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters.

Past Word of the Year winners can be found on the ADS website.

Thoughts on this list? Nominations for this year? Comments always welcome!




One response

19 09 2012

Occupy. Meh. For 2012 I like (because it seems they aren’t all words, but phrases, too) “PIN IT.” Anything noteworthy must be pinned, so “Pin it! (on Pinterest).”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: