Word Routes

Exploring the pathways of our lexicon

Presenting the Nominees for 2014 Word of the Year

Greetings from Portland, Oregon, where the American Dialect Society is holding its annual conference. On Thursday, in my capacity as chair of the society's New Words Committee, I presided over the nominating session for various categories in our Word of the Year selection. Winners will be selected from the different categories on Friday evening, culminating in the vote for the overall Word of the Year. Here's the list of nominees.

MOST USEFUL
budtender: a person who specializes in serving marijuana to consumers, especially in legal dispensaries
Ebola: deadly virus that, in 2014, had a huge outbreak in West Africa that killed thousands
even: v. to deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from "I can't even")
robocar: a self-driving car
unbothered: not annoyed or distracted

MOST CREATIVE
columbusing: cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures
manspreading: of a man, to sit with one's legs wide on public transit in a way that blocks other seats
misogynoir: misogyny directed toward black women
narcissistick (or narcisstick): pejorative term for a selfie stick

MOST UNNECESSARY
baeless: without a romantic partner
basic: plain, socially awkward, unattractive, uninteresting, ignorant, pathetic, uncool, etc.
lumbersexual: fashionably rugged man who adopts the stereotypical dress and facial hair of a lumberjack

MOST OUTRAGEOUS
God view: display mode used by ride-sharing service Uber providing employees with real-time information on all users
second-amendment: v. to kill (someone) with a gun, used ironically by gun control supporters
sugar-dating: pay-to-play relationship between an older, wealthier person (sugar daddy/ momma) and a younger partner (sugar baby)

MOST EUPHEMISTIC
bye, Felicia: a dismissive farewell to someone deemed unimportant
conscious uncoupling: a divorce or romantic separation by polite mutual agreement
EIT: abbreviation for the already euphemistic "enhanced interrogation technique"
thirsty: so hungry for a romantic partner as to appear desperate

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
casual: a new or inexperienced person, especially a gamer (also in filthy casual)
plastiglomerate: type of stone made of melted plastic, beach sediment, and organic debris
salty: exceptionally bitter, angry, or upset
selfie stick: a pole to which a smartphone is attached to take selfies from a distance

LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
normcore: "anti-fashion" trend of adopting an intentionally ordinary, inexpensive personal style from cheap off-the-shelf brands
pairage: term proposed by Utah legislator Kraig Powell to refer to same-sex marriages
platisher: online media publisher that also serves as a platform for creating content

MOST NOTABLE HASHTAG (new category)
#blacklivesmatter: protest over blacks killed at the hands of police (esp. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island)
#icantbreathe: final words of Eric Garner, turned into rallying cry against police violence
#notallmen: response by men to discussions of sexual abuse, sexism, or misogyny that they see as portraying all men as perpetrators (countered by #yesallwomen, used by women sharing stories of bias, harrassment, or abuse)
#whyistayed: explanation by women about staying in abusive domestic relationships

WORD OF THE YEAR
Nominations to be made at final meeting.


Rate this article:

Click here to read more articles from Word Routes.

Ben Zimmer is language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and former language columnist for The Boston Globe and The New York Times Magazine. He has worked as editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. In addition to his regular "Word Routes" column here, he contributes to the group weblog Language Log. He is also the chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. Click here to read more articles by Ben Zimmer.

Join the conversation

Comments from our users:

Sunday January 11th 2015, 8:19 AM
Comment by: El (Los Angeles, CA)
It seems I see two examples of columbusing. 'Salty' and 'even' are terms that go back to my teen days in the 60's. Does being on this list mean this usage of these words is just now being understood or discovered? Nothing new here to me.

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.