Word of the year

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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 oldest of these, 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 interests, is the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year.[citation needed] However, various other organizations also announce Words of the Year for promotional purposes.

American Dialect Society[edit]

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:


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

Most Useful[edit]

Most Creative[edit]

Most Unnecessary[edit]

Most Outrageous[edit]

Most Euphemistic[edit]

Most Likely to Succeed[edit]

Least Likely to Succeed[edit]

Special Categories[edit]

English dictionaries[edit]

Macquarie Dictionary[edit]

The Macquarie Dictionary, which is the dictionary of Australian English, updates the online dictionary each year with new words, phrases and definitions. 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 in early February 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:

YearCommittee's ChoicePeople's Choice
2012phantom vibration syndromeFirst World problem
2008toxic debtflashpacker
2007pod slurpingpassword fatigue
2006muffin 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.[18]

The following is the list of words that became Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year since 2003:[19]


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.[20]

YearUK Word of the YearUS Word of the Year
2012omnishamblesGIF (verb)
2011squeezed middle
2010big societyrefudiate
2008credit crunchhypermiling
2007carbon footprintlocavore

Grant Barrett[edit]

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[edit]

The Global Language Monitor (GLM) has been selecting the Top Words of the Year since 2000.[23] 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 claimed statistical analysis of language usage in the worldwide print and electronic media, the Internet, and the blogosphere, as well as social media, though several linguists and lexicographers have charged that its mathematical methodologies are flawed. GLM announced their 2013 Top Words, Phrases and Names on November 5, 2013, thus launching the WOTY season, which will conclude with the ADA’s announcement in early January 2014.[24]


HashtagOlympiaddroneThe NarrativeH1N1
The OpticmemeKummerspeckGuido and Guidettevampire
DronesThe Cloud3QSnowmagedden/Snowpocalypsedeficit
SequestrationFrankenstorm(The Other) 99Shellackinghealthcare
(spoken only)
The CloudThe 47


Toxic PoliticsGangnam StyleArab SpringAnger and RageKing of Pop
Federal ShutdownGlobal warming/climate changeRoyal WeddingClimate changeObamamania
Global warming/climate changeFiscal cliffAnger and rageThe Great RecessionClimate change
Federal DeficitThe DeficitClimate changeTeachable momentswine flu
Tread LightlyGod particleThe Great RecessionTea PartyToo Large to Fail
Boston strongRogue nukesTahrir SquareAmbush Marketingcloud computing
Marathon BombingNear-Earth AsteroidLinear no-thresholdLady Gagapublic option
Chemical WeaponsBinders full of womenBunga bungaMan upJai Ho!
All-time HighArab Spring‘How’s that working out for you?’Pass the bill to be able to see what’s in itMayan calendar
Rogue nukessolar max“Make no mistake about it!”ObamamaniaGod particle
Near-Earth Asteroidbig dataDon’t Touch My Junk
Arab Springethical/sustainable fashion
Solar Maximumtoxic politics
big dataCitius, Altius, Fortius
Ethical/Sustainable FashionWar on Women


Pope FrancisNewtown and Malala Yousafzai
Steve Jobs
ObamaCareXi JinpingOsama bin-Laden & Seal Team 6
NSAKate MiddletonFukushima
Edward SnowdenBarack ObamaMohamed Bouazizi
Kate MiddletonMitt RomneyHu Jintao
IRSLondon OlympicsKate Middleton
Ted CruzHiggs bosonMuammar Gaddafi
Chris ChristieEurope
Barack Obama
Marathon BombersFelix BaumgartnerPIIGS
Malala YousafzaiSenkaku IslandsYaroslavl Lokomotiv
Xi JinpingJohn Roberts
Barack ObamaBibi
(Benjamin Netanyahu)
Hassan RouhaniMahmoud Ahmadinejad
Sochi OlympicsChristopher Stevens
Angela Merkel

2000–2009 decade words and phrases[edit]


  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[edit]

A Word a Year[edit]

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.[26][27][28] 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".

German Wort des Jahres[edit]

In Germany, a Wort des Jahres has been selected since 1972 by the Society of the German Language.[29] In addition, an Unwort des Jahres (Unword 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").[30] Similar selections are made each year since 1999 in Austria, 2002 in Liechtenstein and 2003 in Switzerland.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2002-01-13. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  2. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2003-01-13. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  3. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2004-01-13. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  4. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2005-01-07. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  5. ^ American Dialect Society
  6. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2007-01-05. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  7. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  8. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  9. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  10. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2011-01-08. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  11. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-11-13. 
  12. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  13. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  14. ^ "American Dialect Society". Americandialect.org. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  15. ^ http://www.americandialect.org/2011-Word-of-the-Year-PRESS-RELEASE.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.americandialect.org/American-Dialect-Society-2010-Word-of-the-Year-PRESS-RELEASE.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.americandialect.org/Word-of-the-Year_2007.pdf
  18. ^ "Merriam-Webster launches 'Word of the Year' online poll". CNET. 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2007-12-29. 
  19. ^ "Word of the Year Archive". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year: Frequently Asked Questions (viewed Nov. 20, 2013).
  21. ^ Grisham, Lori (18 November 2014). "Oxford names 'vape' 2014 Word of the Year". USA Today. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  22. ^ The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is... (viewed Nov. 20, 2013).
  23. ^ [1] Top Words of the Decade
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ Goldstein, Katherine (2009-11-19). "Top Words Of The Decade 2000-2009: Most Popular Words". Huffington Post. 
  26. ^ A Word a Year: 1906–2006
  27. ^ A Word a Year: 1905–2005
  28. ^ A Word a Year: 1904–2004
  29. ^ German Word of the Year
  30. ^ "Unword of the year" in Germany

External links[edit]