Thursday, January 14, 2010

Collected Words of 2009 & the Aughts

I can't believe I missed these around the New Year. But I did catch them in time to do a haiku news about them. And since it is still within two weeks of the start of 2010, I think its okay that I mention them even if they are sooooooooo last year. ;)

The New York Times has a list of interesting buzzwords of 2009. This is a hodge-podge of common words used throughout the year. One sentence reads "Catchphrases and buzzwords can tell us much about a year past — what resonated, what stuck, what the year revealed about the sensibility of the nation, whether you’re a wise Latina woman, a mini-Madoff, a teabagger or Balloon Boy." Need I say more?

The 2009 Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year list is based on actual user lookups to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary and Online Thesaurus. The word of the year that received the highest intensity of searches over the shortest period of time is "admonish." A curious result.

On the other hand, the 2009 Word of the Year choice at Webster’s New World® College Dictionary was distracted driving. Not only is it quickly entering people's vocabulary as many are guilty of this on a daily basis, but it is rapidly entering law books around the world. One of their runner-up words is amusing and appalling at the same time:
wallet biopsy: examination, before medical service is provided, of a patient’s ability to pay, enabling the health care provider to decide whether free or discounted medical care is appropriate

The New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2009 was "unfriend." I think we all know what that one means! Along those same lines, the 121-year-old American Dialect Society chose "tweet" as the word for 2009. Going a step further, they also chose Google to be the word of the decade.Their voting process, which must satisfy the "crusty generation of veteran scholars and the giddy linguistic students whose jargon is a step ahead," sounds like it would be incredibly fun to sit in on. In fact, go ahead and read about it and watch the video!

The Global Language Monitor says its picks for the Top Words of the Decade were ‘Global Warming’, 9/11, and Obama followed by Bailout, Evacuee, and Derivative; Google, Surge, Chinglish, and Tsunami followed.

Noughtyisms: the Best Words of the Decade, is an article from the Guardian with a crazy list of unique, interesting words from around the world that were born in the new Millenium. Meh, smirting, helicopter mom. It even pointed out to me that "cellulite" was a local slang term in Minnesota for hail damage in 2006. Did not know that. Go ahead, it's a good, quick read.

9/11, iPod, friend, blog, and carbon made the top 5 words of the decade for the National Post. Additionally, i found this New York Post column which includes many of the English words I discussed here, but also talks about words of 2009 and the Aughts from around the world.

Finally, every year wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University issued their 35th annual list of words that they believe should be banned in 2010. Guess what? Some of the Words of the Year picked by other organizations and entities ended up on that list, including friend (in the verb form), unfriend, and tweet.

Phew. That was all of the ones I found. Any more, well, I guess I missed them! Oh how I wish the Urban Dictionary had a Word of the Year, but I couldn't find one. Better luck next year.

Good thing I'm done with this post, my spellchecker is not happy with all the portmanteaus!


  1. I would really like to see the word "snark" either fade out of general use or develop a solid meaning. Right now, it seems to mean one of three things - witty, cynical, or just plain mean. The first one may look like the most general usage, but people often describe themselves as "snarky" even though it's very uncool to describe yourself as "witty", so the extent to which that caught on it appears to be a "brag word". No matter what, I could live without this word (and do!).

  2. I'm not a fan either. I agree with it being cynical or mean, but I've never associated it with wit. Anyone can be snarky, but not everyone is witty :D And now I'm just being a smartass ;)