Friday, December 05, 2008

Word of the Year

Webster's New World Large Print DictionaryIt's that time of year when awards and lists and Best Ofs are everywhere. A simple, unglamorous contest I enjoy is Word of the Year. Different dictionaries proclaim their own, and often the runners-up are as entertaining and revealing about the past year as the winners.

Webster's New World Dictionary selected Overshare as their word. With electronic communication and reality tv-living loosening up everyone's tongue, oversharing seems to be everywhere. Selective ignorance was declared a runner-up, a personal favorite, seeing as how the trend is oversharing.

Merriam-Webster's School DictionaryMerriam-Webster turns away from the social to the pragmatic, and their winner is the word Bailout. Their runners-up are less cutting edge or newly coined words, instead reflecting the turmoil of an election year and economic distress such as trepidation. As it turns out, their words are selected from hits on their dictionary site, rather than from recent coinage or unique expression.

The New Oxford American Dictionary has raised the pragmatic bar even higher by selecting Hypermiling as its word. A practice that maximizes every drop of motor vehicle fuel, hypermiling is a growing obsession among Prius-drivers and typical gas-guzzlers alike. The Oxford shortlist has a lot of workplace and lifestyle words as well, such as staycation and topless meeting (not what you think!).

Oxford American DictionaryThe American Dialect Society has put out its call for 2008's word, but will not be voting on an outcome until January 9. If your favorite word of 2008 - *ahem* absquatulate - hasn't made any of the lists yet, put in a nomination!

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