The last linkfest of 2017! Let’s exorcise this miserable year with some amusing and edumacational links. And have yourselves a merry little Festivus.
Drew Magary is back with the 2017 edition of his Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog: “More than any reindeer parable or silly children’s rhyme, it is THIS catalog and its splendidly useless items wherein you and I can discover the TRUE meaning of Christmas, which is that it delays the pain and horrors of this shit world at least until after New Year’s.”
“You listen to me, Williams-Sonoma: There will NEVER be a fondueassaince. Ever.”
With December half gone, we’re already deep into Word of the Year season. Dictionary.com has chosen “complicit”; Merriam-Webster chose “feminism”; Collins Dictionary offered “fake news.” Oxford University Press selected “Trump” as itsChildren’s Word of the Year for 2017, while Oxford Dictionaries picked youthquake, which last was popular in the 1960s, although for different reasons. (The word was coined in 1965 by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.) Cambridge Dictionary picked “populism.” On NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Geoff Nunberg made the case for “tribal” (although on Twitter, he made another suggestion); on Twitter, John Kelly nominated “bot,” and on the Oxford Dictionaries blog he rounded up an assortment of WOTYs, including, from Switzerland, harcèlement, or “harassment.” And the pseudonymous Emmet Lee Dickinson has been counting down December with a daily WOTY.
To appropriate a phrase: me too. As in the past, my choices for 2017 follow the guidelines of the American Dialect Society, which will choose its own WOTYs on January 5, 2018, at its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. (If you happen to be in the vicinity, the vote is open to the public. Go!) Nominated words don’t have to be brand new, but they do need to “show widespread usage by a large number of people in a variety of contexts and situations, and which reflect important events, people, places, ideas, or preoccupations of English-speakers in North America in 2017.” They don’t have to be single words, by the way: any “lexical item” qualifies, including hashtags and short phrases.
My WOTY, however, is a single word: reckoning, an old word given new relevance and significance by current events. Details below.
Here’s my full list of notable words of the year, in alphabetical order. Some links go to my original Word of the Week posts.
Collins Dictionary, based in London and Glasgow, got a head start on the WOTY competition in early November, selectingfake news over runners-up such as unicorn, echo chamber, and gig economy. (Related: My November 2016 post on fake.)
At its annual meeting, held this year in Austin, the American Dialect Society selected a two-word lexical item as its word of the year for 2016: dumpster fire. And it set a precedent by including an emoji representation of the term in its announcement of the vote.
Yes, that’s a wastebasket, not a dumpster. More about that later.
Why dumpster fire? “As 2016 unfolded, many people latched on to dumpster fire as a colorful, evocative expression to verbalize their feelings that the year was shaping up to be a catastrophic one,” Ben Zimmer, chairman of the society's new words committee, said in the press release. “In pessimistic times, dumpster fire served as a darkly humorous summation of how many viewed the year’s events.”
This post marks my eighth annual foray into word-of-the-year (WOTY) speculation. My first such summing-up, in 2009, included birther, Tea Party, and FAIL, among other lexical units. How things have changed. Or not.
As in the past, my choices for 2016 follow the guidelines of the American Dialect Society, which will choose its own WOTYs on January 6, 2017, at its annual meeting in Austin, Texas. (If you happen to be in the vicinity, the vote is open to the public, and it’s hella fun.) There are a few new ADS categories this year – political word of the year, digital (tech-related) word of the year, slang word of the year, WTF word of the year – and there’s always the possibility of even more categories being nominated from the floor. (For my own list, I’ve created three new categories: Obscenity of the Year, Import of the Year, and Spoonerism of the Year.) Nominated words don’t have to be brand new, but they do need to “show widespread usage by a large number of people in a variety of contexts and situations, and which reflect important events, people, places, ideas, or preoccupations of English-speakers in North America in 2016.”
The WOTY party has begun, and I’m arriving fashionably (or maybe just breathlessly) late. Back in early November, Allan Metcalf nominated basic for the honor; a couple of weeks later Dennis Baron, aka Dr. Grammar, anointed singular they and Oxford Dictionaries selected an emoji, “Face with Tears of Joy.” Merriam-Webster, which chooses its WOTY based on volume of online lookups, selected -ism. The spoofy Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (named after “Emily’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request”) has been posting one WOTY candidate every day in December, along with runners-up. (I confess I’d never heard of Dick Poop, but I like it.) And over at the Visual Thesaurus (where I’m a contributing writer), Ben Zimmer has nominated a couple dozen notable words that surfaced this year in science, business, news, and pop culture.
not a peeve or a complaint about overuse or misuse.
Word of the year: Refugee
Most useful: Mx.
Most likely to succeed: Ghosting
Least likely to succeed: Left shark
Euphemism of the year: Netflix and chill
Most creative: Shipping
Most outrageous: Measles party, schlonged (tie – it was an outrageous year!)
Most unnecessary: Microaggression
Most productive: -shaming
Read on for the full WOTY list – 20 words in all – and brief definitions. Words previously featured on this blog are linked to the relevant posts. And follow the American Dialect Society for news of its WOTY vote on January 8.
With 8 percent of 2015 still in the mysterious future, the first Word of the Year (WOTY) nominations have already begun. Oxford Dictionaries made history, and stirred up some controversy, by selecting an emoji – “Face with Tears of Joy” – as its, um, lexical unit of the year. (Emoji was a Fritinancy Word of the Week in January 2012.)
And at the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Lingua Franca blog, Allan Metcalf – he’s the executive secretary of the American Dialect Society – makes the case for basic: “the word this year to describe someone or something that fits a stereotype, especially the ‘basic white girl’.”