Word of the Year
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Word of the Year

The word(s) of the year, sometimes capitalized as "Word(s) of the Year" and abbreviated "WOTY" (or "WotY"), refers to any of various assessments as to the most important word(s) or expression(s) in the public sphere during a specific year.

The German tradition, Wort des Jahres was started in 1971. The American Dialect Society's Word of the Year is the oldest English-language version, and the only one that is announced after the end of the calendar year, determined by a vote of independent linguists, and not tied to commercial interest.[] However, various other organizations also announce Words of the Year for promotional purposes.

American Dialect Society

Since 1991, the American Dialect Society (ADS) has designated one or more words or terms to be the "Word of the Year" in the United States

The society also chose a "Word of the 1990s" (web), "Word of the 20th Century" (jazz), "Word of the Past Millennium" (she), and "Word of the Decade (2000-2009)" (google as a verb).


Other candidates for "Word of the Year" have included:

  • 2014: bae: a sweetheart or romantic partner, columbusing: cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures, even: deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from "I can't even"), manspreading: of a man, to sit with one's legs wide on public transit in a way that blocks other seats.
  • 2013: slash: used as a coordinating conjunction to mean "and/or" (e.g., "come and visit slash stay") or "so" ("I love that place, slash can we go there?"), twerk: A mode of dance that involves vigorous booty-shaking and booty-thrusting, usually with the feet planted, Obamacare: term for the Affordable Care Act that has moved from pejorative to matter-of-fact shorthand and selfie: a photo taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone and shared on social media.
  • 2012: Other nominees were YOLO (an acronym for "You Only Live Once," often used sarcastically or self-deprecatingly), fiscal cliff (the threat of spending cuts and tax increases looming over end-of-year budget negotiations), Gangnam style (the trendy style of Seouls Gangnam district, as used in the Korean pop song of the same name), marriage equality (legal recognition of same-sex marriage), and 47 percent (a claimed portion of the population that does not pay federal income tax).
  • 2011: 99%, 99 percenters and the acronym FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) lost in a run-off with occupy[29]
  • 2010: Nom lost in a run-off with app[30]
  • 2007: Among the contenders were green- (a designation of environmental concern, as in greenwashing), surge (an increase in troops in a war zone, as in the Iraq War troop surge of 2007), Facebook (all parts of speech), waterboarding (an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused with water to simulate drowning), Googlegänger (a portmanteau of Google and Doppelgänger, meaning a person with your name who shows up when you google yourself), and wide stance, "to have a --" (to be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view, in reference to Senator Larry Craig after his 2007 arrest at an airport)[31]
  • 2006: Plutoed beat "climate canary" (something whose poor health indicates a looming environmental catastrophe) in a run-off vote for the 2006 word of the year. Other words in the running were flog (an advertisement disguised as a blog or web log), The Decider (a political catchphrase said by former United States President George W. Bush), "prohibited liquids" (fluids that cannot be transported by passengers on airplanes), and macaca (an American citizen treated as an alien)


In addition to the "Word of the Year", the society also selects words in other categories that vary from year to year:

Most Useful

  • 2014: even deal with or reconcile difficult situations or emotions (from "I can't even").
  • 2013: because introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., "because reasons," "because awesome").
  • 2012: -(po)calypse, -(ma)geddon (hyperbolic combining forms for various catastrophes)
  • 2011: humblebrag (expression of false humility, especially by celebrities on Twitter)
  • 2010: nom (onomatopoetic form connoting eating, esp. pleasurably)
  • 2009: fail (noun or interjection used when something is egregiously unsuccessful)
  • 2008: Barack Obama (specifically, the use of both names as combining forms, such as ObamaMania or Obamacare)

Most Creative

  • 2015: ammosexual: someone who loves firearms in a fetishistic manner.
  • 2014: columbusing: cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things already known to minority cultures.
  • 2013: catfish: to misrepresent oneself online, especially as part of a romantic deception.
  • 2012: gate lice (airline passengers who crowd around a gate, waiting to board)
  • 2011: Mellencamp (a woman who has aged out of being a "cougar", named after John Cougar Mellencamp)
  • 2010: prehab (preemptive enrollment in a rehab facility to prevent relapse of an abuse problem)
  • 2009: Dracula sneeze (covering one's mouth with the crook of one's elbow when sneezing, seen as similar to popular portrayals of the vampire Dracula, in which he hides the lower half of his face with a cape)
  • 2008: recombobulation area (an area at General Mitchell International Airport in which passengers that have passed through security screening can get their clothes and belongings back in order)

Most Unnecessary

  • 2015: manbun: man's hairstyle pulled up in a bun.
  • 2014: baeless: without a romantic partner (lacking a bae).
  • 2013: sharknado (a tornado full of sharks, as featured in the Syfy Channel movie of that name)
  • 2012: legitimate rape (type of rape that Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin claimed rarely results in pregnancy)
  • 2011: bi-winning (term used by Charlie Sheen to describe himself pridefully, dismissing accusations of being bipolar)
  • 2010: refudiate (blend word of refute and repudiate used by Sarah Palin on Twitter)
  • 2009: sea kittens (attempted rebranding of fish by PETA)
  • 2008: moofing (a PR firm-created term for working on the go with a laptop and cell phone)

Most Outrageous

  • 2015: fuckboy, fuckboi: derogatory term for a man who behaves objectionably or promiscuously.
  • 2014: second-amendment: v. to kill (someone) with a gun, used ironically by gun control supporters.
  • 2013: underbutt (the underside of buttocks, made visible by certain shorts or underwear)
  • 2012: legitimate rape (type of rape that Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin claimed rarely results in pregnancy)
  • 2011: assholocracy (rule by obnoxious multi-millionaires)
  • 2010: gate rape (pejorative term for invasive new airport pat-down procedure)
  • 2009: death panel (a supposed committee of doctors and/or bureaucrats who would decide which patients would and wouldn't receive treatment)
  • 2008: terrorist fist jab (a phrase for a fist bump coined by Fox News newscaster E. D. Hill)

Most Euphemistic

  • 2015: Netflix and chill: sexual come-on masked as a suggestion to watch Netflix and relax."
  • 2014: EIT: abbreviation for the already euphemistic "enhanced interrogation technique."
  • 2013: least untruthful (involving the smallest necessary lie, used by intelligence director James Clapper)
  • 2012: self-deportation (policy of encouraging illegal immigrants to return voluntarily to their home countries)
  • 2011: job creator (a person responsible for economic growth and employment)
  • 2010: kinetic event (Pentagon term for violent attacks on troops in Afghanistan)
  • 2009: hike the Appalachian trail (to go away to have sex with one's illicit lover, from a statement released by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to cover for visiting his Argentinean mistress)
  • 2008: scooping technician (a person whose job it is to pick up dog poop)

Most Likely to Succeed

  • 2015: ghost: (verb) abruptly end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online.
  • 2014: salty: exceptionally bitter, angry, or upset.
  • 2013: binge-watch (to consume vast quantities of a single show or series of visual entertainment in one sitting)
  • 2012: marriage equality (legal recognition of same-sex marriage)
  • 2011: cloud (online space for the large-scale processing and storage of data)
  • 2010: trend (verb for exhibiting a burst of online buzz)
  • 2009: twenty-ten (pronunciation of the year 2010, as opposed to saying "two thousand ten" or "two thousand and ten")
  • 2008: shovel-ready (description of infrastructure projects that can be started quickly, when funds become available)

Least Likely to Succeed

  • 2015: sitbit: device that rewards sedentary lifestyle (play on Fitbit fitness tracker).
  • 2014: platisher: online media publisher that also serves as a platform for creating content.
  • 2013: Thanksgivukkah (confluence of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah that will not be repeated for another 70,000 years)
  • 2012: phablet (mid-sized electronic device, between a smartphone and a tablet)
  • 2011: brony (an adult male fan of the "My Little Pony" cartoon franchise)
  • 2010: culturomics (research project from Google analyzing the history of language and culture)
  • 2009: Naughties, Aughties, Oughties, etc. (alternative names for the decade 2000-2009)
  • 2008: PUMA (an acronym for "Party Unity My Ass" and later, "People United Means Action" as used by Democrats who were disaffected after Hillary Clinton failed to secure a sufficient number of delegates)

Special Categories

  • Most Notable Hashtag (2014): #blacklivesmatter: protest over blacks killed at the hands of police (esp. Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island).
  • Most Productive (2013): -shaming: (from slut-shaming) type of public humiliation (fat-shaming, pet-shaming).
  • Election Words (2012): binders (full of women) (a term used by Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate to describe the resumes of female job candidates that he consulted as governor of Massachusetts)
  • Occupy Words (2011): the 99%, 99 percenters (those held to be at a financial or political disadvantage to the top moneymakers, the one-percenters)
  • Fan Words (2010): gleek (a fan of the TV show Glee)
  • Election-Related Word (2008): maverick (a person who is beholden to no one, widely used by the Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin)
  • "Trump" has been named the children's "word of the year" by the Oxford University Press. (2017).

English dictionaries

Australian National Dictionary Centre

The Australian National Dictionary Centre has announced a Word of the Year each December since 2006. The word is chosen by the editorial staff, and is selected on the basis of having come to some prominence in the Australian social and cultural landscape during the year.[32] The Word of the Year is often reported in the media as being Australia's word of the year,[33][34][35] but the word is not always an Australian word.

2017 Kwaussie
2016 democracy sausage
2015 sharing economy
2014 shirtfront
2013 bitcoin
2012 green-on-blue
2010 vuvuzela
2009 twitter
2008 GFC
2007 me-tooism
2006 podcast

Macquarie Dictionary

The Macquarie Dictionary, which is the dictionary of Australian English, updates the online dictionary each year with new words, phrases, and definitions. These can be viewed on their website.

Each year the editors select a short list of new words added to the dictionary and invite the public to vote on their favourite. The public vote is held in January and results in the People's Choice winner. The most influential word of the year is also selected by the Word of the Year Committee which is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence. The Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary, Susan Butler, is also a committee member. The Committee meets annually to select the overall winning words.

The following is the list of winning words since the Macquarie Word of the Year first began in 2006:

Year Committee's Choice People's Choice
2017 milkshake duck[36][37] framily[38]
2016 fake news[39] halal snack pack[40]
2015 captain's call[41] captain's call[42]
2014 mansplain[43] shareplate
2013 infovore[44] onesie
2012 phantom vibration syndrome First World problem
2011 burqini fracking
2010 googleganger shockumentary
2009 shovel-ready[45] tweet
2008 toxic debt flashpacker
2007 pod slurping password fatigue
2006 muffin top (No overall winner. See Macquarie website for category winners)


The lists of Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year (for each year) are ten-word lists published annually by the American dictionary-publishing company Merriam-Webster, Inc., which feature the ten words of the year from the English language. These word lists started in 2003 and have been published at the end of each year. At first, Merriam-Webster determined its contents by analyzing page hits and popular searches on its website. Since 2006, the list has been determined by an online poll and by suggestions from visitors to the website.[46]

The following is the list of words that became Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year since 2003:[47]


Oxford University Press, which publishes the Oxford English Dictionary and many other dictionaries, announces an Oxford Dictionaries UK Word of the Year and an Oxford Dictionaries US Word of the Year; sometimes these are the same word. The Word of the Year need not have been coined within the past twelve months but it does need to have become prominent or notable during that time. There is no guarantee that the Word of the Year will be included in any Oxford dictionary. The Oxford Dictionaries Words of the Year are selected by editorial staff from each of the Oxford dictionaries. The selection team is made up of lexicographers and consultants to the dictionary team, and editorial, marketing, and publicity staff.[49]

Year UK Word of the Year US Word of the Year
2017 youthquake
2016 post-truth [50]
2015 ? (Face With Tears of Joy, Unicode: U+1F602, part of emoji)[51]
2014 vape[52]
2013 selfie[53]
2012 omnishambles GIF (noun)
2011 squeezed middle
2010 big society refudiate
2009 simples (Compare the Meerkat catchphrase) unfriend
2008 credit crunch hypermiling
2007 carbon footprint locavore
2006 bovvered carbon-neutral
2005 sudoku podcast
2004 chav

Grant Barrett

Since 2004, lexicographer Grant Barrett has published a words-of-the-year list, usually in the New York Times, though he does not name a winner.

Global Language Monitor

The Global Language Monitor (GLM) has been selecting the Top Words of the Year since 2000.[54] GLM states the Top Words, Phrases, and Names of the Year provide a history of each year since 2000 through English-language word usage. To select these words and phrases, it uses a [big data], [data mining] statistical analysis of language usage in the worldwide print and electronic media, the Internet, and the blogosphere, as well as social media. Several linguists and lexicographers have charged that its mathematical methodologies (found below) are flawed.

Methodology GLM's Word of the Year rankings are based upon actual word usage throughout the English-speaking world, which now approaches some 2.38 billion people, who use the language as a first, second, business language. To qualify for these lists, the words, names, and phrases must meet three criteria: 1) found globally, 2) have a minimum of 25,000 citations, and 3) have the requisite 'depth' and 'breadth' of usage. Depth is here defined as appearing in various forms of media; breadth that they must appear world-over, not limited to a particular professional or social group or geography. The goal is to find the word usage that will endure the test of time.

GLM employs its NarrativeTracker and Internet MediaBuzz technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 375,000 print and electronic global media (not limited to the English-language-based media), as well as new social media sources as they emerge. This is the 18th annual analysis by the Global Language Monitor and the only analysis that encompasses the whole of Global English.

  • [2] To See the Top Words, Phrases, and Names of 2017, click here</a>
    • [3] Click here to read "A Brief Retrospective on the Nature of Truth and Why It Confuses Westerners So"
    • [4] To see how the Top Words of the Year Reflect the History of the 21st Century, thus far click here.
    • [5] To Learn What the Top Words of the First Fifteen Years of the 21st c. portend for the Rest of the Century, click here.</a>


    On December 7, 2017. GLM announced Truth as the Top Word, Xi Jingping as the Top Name, and Weinstein Effect and #MeToo as the Top Phrases for global English for 2017.


    2017 2016 2015 2014
    Truth Meme (Omran Daqneesh) Microaggression The Heart ? Emoji (for love)
    Narrative Refugee Climate Changing Hashtag
    Opioids Bigly Refugee Vape
    Post-Truth Migrant Blue Moon
    Woke Non-binary Thug Nano
    Brexit Symbol for entertainer formerly known as Prince Trans Photo Bomb
    Blessee Zika Content Caliphate
    Non-binary Gun Cult Affluenza White Privilege
    Anthropecene Safe Place Opioids Bae
    Latinx Heroin and Fentanyl Evolve 'Bash' Tag
    2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
    404]] Apocalypse/Armageddon occupy Spillcam twitter
    Fail deficit fracking Vuvuzela Obama-
    Hashtag Olympiad drone The Narrative H1N1
    @Pontifex Bak'tun Non-veg Refudiate stimulus
    The Optic meme Kummerspeck Guido and Guidette vampire
    Surveillance MOOC Haboob Deficit 2.0
    Drones The Cloud 3Q Snowmagedden/Snowpocalypse deficit
    Deficit omnishambles Trustafarians 3-D hadron
    Sequestration Frankenstorm (The Other) 99 Shellacking healthcare
    Emancipate obesogenic simplexity transparency
    Filibuster hen outrage
    Nano- derecho bonus
    Twerking hashtag unemployed
    Deadlock drones foreclosure
    Franken- fracking cartel
    Meme phobes Twenty-ten
    (spoken only)
    Stalemate superfood Obamacare
    The Cloud The 47
    Phony YOLO
    Comet adorkable


    2017 2016 2015 2014 Weinstein Effect / #MeToo Make America Great Again Migrant Crisis Hands Up, No Shoot
    2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
    Toxic Politics Gangnam Style Arab Spring Anger and Rage King of Pop
    Federal Shutdown Global warming and climate change Royal Wedding Climate change Obamamania
    Global warming and climate change Fiscal cliff Anger and rage The Great Recession Climate change
    Federal Deficit The Deficit Climate change Teachable moment swine flu
    Tread Lightly God particle The Great Recession Tea Party Too Large to Fail
    Boston strong Rogue nukes Tahrir Square Ambush Marketing cloud computing
    Marathon Bombing Near-Earth Asteroid Linear no-threshold Lady Gaga public option
    Chemical Weapons Binders full of women Bunga bunga Man up Jai Ho!
    All-time High Arab Spring 'How's that working out for you?' Pass the bill to be able to see what's in it Mayan calendar
    Rogue nukes solar max "Make no mistake about it!" Obamamania God particle
    Near-Earth Asteroid big data Don't Touch My Junk
    Arab Spring ethical/sustainable fashion
    Solar Maximum toxic politics
    big data Citius, Altius, Fortius
    Ethical/Sustainable Fashion War on Women


    2000-2009 decade words and phrases


    1. global warming (2000), rated highly from day one of the decade
    2. 9/11 (2001), for the September 11 attacks
    3. Obama- (2008), the U.S. President's name as a root word or word stem
    4. bailout (2008), The Bank Bailout was but Act One of the crisis
    5. evacuee/refugee (2005), after Katrina, refugees became evacuees
    6. derivative (2007), financial instrument or analytical tool that engendered the Meltdown
    7. google (2007), from Google Search, after word 'googol'
    8. surge (2007), the strategy that effectively ended the Iraq War
    9. Chinglish (2005), Chinese-English hybrid language growing larger as Chinese influence expands
    10. tsunami (2004), from Southeast Asian tsunami which took 250,000 lives
    11. H1N1 (2009), a strain of the Swine Flu
    12. default (2007), subprime mortgages linked to financial troubles
    13. dot.com (2000), the dot.com bubble of computer layoffs, before ecommerce regrew
    14. Y2K (2000), from the Y2K bug of computers mishandling dates after 1999
    15. misunderestimate (2002), a term from George W. Bush
    16. chad (2000), paper chips from voter punched cards in the 2000 Florida election recount
    17. twitter (2008), with a quarter of a billion references on Google
    18. WMD (2002), Iraq's supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction
    19. blog (2003), first called "weblog" which contracted into "blog"
    20. texting (2004), sending text messages (not voice recordings) over cell phones
    21. slumdog (2008), child inhabitants of Mumbai's slums
    22. sustainable (2006), key to "Green" living where natural resources are never depleted
    23. Brokeback (2004), new term for 'gay' from the Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain
    24. quagmire (2004), as would the Iraq War end up like Vietnam, another "quagmire"?
    25. truthiness (2006), Stephen Colbert's word for truth based on intuition not evidence or reason

    Also worth noting: 'embedded' (2003), to embed reporters with US troops.


    1. climate change (2000), Green words in every form dominate the decade
    2. Financial Tsunami (2008), one-quarter of the world's wealth vanishes seemingly overnight
    3. ground zero (2001), site of 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City
    4. War on Terror (2001), G.W. Bush administration's response to 9/11
    5. Weapons of Mass Destruction (2003), Bush's WMD never found in Iraq or the Syrian desert
    6. swine flu (2008), specifically the H1N1 strain of flu virus
    7. "Let's Roll!" (2001), Todd Beamer's last words heard before Flight 93 crashed into the PA countryside
    8. Red State/Blue State (2004), Republican (red) or Democratic (blue) control of U.S. states
    9. carbon footprint (2007), the amount of CO2 an activity produces
    10. shock-and-awe (2003), initial strategy of Iraq War to terrorize Iraqi forces
    11. Ponzi scheme (2009), when Madoff's rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul strategy reaped billions & heartache
    12. Category 4 (2005), for Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Wilma
    13. King of Pop (2000), Elvis was the King, MJ the King (of Pop)
    14. "Stay the course" (2004), George W. Bush's off-stated guidance for Iraq War
    15. "Yes, we can!" (2008), Obama's winning campaign slogan
    16. "Jai Ho!" (2008), shout of joy (and song) from film Slumdog Millionaire
    17. "Out of the Mainstream" (2003), complaint about any opposition's political platform
    18. cloud computing (2007), using the Internet (or other network) as a large computational device
    19. threat fatigue (2004), one too many terrorist threat alerts
    20. same-sex marriage (2003), marriage of gay or lesbian couples

    Similar word lists

    A Word a Year

    Since 2004, Susie Dent, an English lexicographer has published a column, "A Word a Year", in which she chooses a single word from each of the last 101 years to represent preoccupations of the time. Susie Dent notes that the list is subjective.[56][57][58] Each year, she gives a completely different set of words.

    Since Susie Dent works for the Oxford University Press, her words of choice are often incorrectly referred to as "Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year".

    Other countries

    In Germany, a Wort des Jahres has been selected since 1972 (for year 1971) by the Society of the German Language.[59] In addition, an Unwort des Jahres (Un-word of the year or No-no Word of the Year) has been nominated since 1991, for a word or phrase in public speech deemed insulting or socially inappropriate (such as "Überfremdung").[60] Similar selections are made each year since 1999 in Austria, 2002 in Liechtenstein, and 2003 in Switzerland.

    In Denmark, the Word of the year has been selected since 2008 by Danmarks Radio and Dansk Sprognævn.

    In Japan, the Kanji of the year has been selected since 1995. Kanji are adopted Chinese characters in Japanese language.

    In Norway, the Word of the year poll is carried out since 2012.

    In Portugal, the Word of the year poll is carried out since 2009.

    In Russia, the Word of the year poll is carried out since 2007.

    In Ukraine, the Word of the year poll is carried out since 2013.

    See also

    Further reading

    • John Ayto, "A Century of New Words", Series: Oxford Paperback Reference (2007) ISBN 0-19-921369-0
    • John Ayto, "Twentieth Century Words", Oxford University Press (1999) ISBN 0-19-860230-8


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    54. ^ [1] GLM was founded in [Silicon Valley] by Paul JJ Payack in 2003 and moved to [Austin, Texas] some five years later. Top Words of the Decade
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    56. ^ A Word a Year: 1906-2006
    57. ^ A Word a Year: 1905-2005
    58. ^ A Word a Year: 1904-2004
    59. ^ German Word of the Year
    60. ^ "Unword of the year" in Germany

    External links

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