Exploring the pathways of our lexicon
The 2010 Words of the Year: And the Nominees Are...
Greetings from chilly Pittsburgh! The American Dialect Society is having its annual conference here, and last night we met to select the nominees for various categories of Words of the Year. On Friday evening, winners will be selected from the different categories, and then nominations will be made for the overall category of Word of the Year. What do you think the category winners should be, and what should be crowned the Word of 2010?
- fat-finger Verb: to mistype, as by accidentally striking more than one key on a keyboard/pad.
- junk As in junk shot (attempt to fix BP oil spill), junk status (Greece's credit rating), and don't touch my junk (protest against TSA pat-down procedure).
- nom Onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably. Can be used as an interjection or noun to refer to delicious food.
- vuvuzela: South African plastic trumpet used by fans during the FIFA World Cup matches.
- -sauce Intensive suffix, as in awesome-sauce 'great' and lame-sauce 'stupid'.
- 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.
- phoenix firm A troubled company that reemerges under a new name.
- prehab Preemptive enrollment in a rehab facility to prevent relapse of an abuse problem.
- refudiate Blend of refute and repudiate used by Sarah Palin on Twitter.
- ironic moustache Facial hair worn as a statement of retro hipsterdom.
- star whacker Imagined celebrity killer (alleged by actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi).
- gate rape Pejorative term for invasive new airport pat-down procedure.
- terror baby Baby born to a terrorist family on U.S. soil in order to establish citizenship.
- bed intruder Perpetrator of a home invasion in Huntsville, Ala., made famous by viral video.
- corn sugar Corn Refiners Association's rebranding of high fructose corn syrup.
- enhanced pat-down TSA's term for controversial new frisking procedure.
- kinetic event Pentagon term for violent attacks on troops in Afghanistan.
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
- hacktivism Using computer hacking skills as a form of political or social activism.
- -pad Combining form used by iPad and other tablet computers (ViewPad, WindPad, etc.).
- telework Term used at federal level for work by an employee away from the office.
- trend Verb: to exhibit a burst of online buzz.
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
- fauxhemian Winner of a Gawker poll to replace the term "hipster."
- skyaking Jumping out of a plane in a kayak.
- top kill / top hat / junk shot Various failed techniques to fix the BP oil spill.
ELECTION TERMS (new category)
- 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)
- belieber A fan of pop singer Justin Bieber (Bieber + believer)
- gleek A fan of the TV show "Glee" (Glee + geek)
- little monster A fan of pop singer Lady Gaga, so called by the singer herself.
- Twihard A fan of the "Twilight" books and movies.
- Yat Dat A native-born fan of the New Orleans Saints.
Update: Read all about the results of the final voting here.