At its annual meeting in Pittsburgh last Friday, the American Dialect Society selected app (short for “application”) as its 2010 word of the year.
App has been around for ages, but with millions of dollars of marketing muscle behind the slogan “There’s an app for that,” plus the arrival of “app stores” for a wide spectrum of operating systems for phones and computers, app really exploded in the last 12 months. … One of the most convincing arguments from the voting floor was from a woman who said that even her grandmother had heard of it.
The 121-year-old American Dialect Society began selecting words of the year in 1990, which makes this contest the longest-running such vote anywhere. Unlike similar WOTY contests, the ADS vote is not tied to commercial interests.
Special-category winners included:
Most useful: Nom, which was an April 2009 Fritinancy Word of the Week. Ahead of my time!
Most creative: Prehab, a March 2010 Fritinancy Word of the Week.
Most unnecessary: Refudiate.
Most outrageous: Gate rape.
Most euphemistic: Kinetic event. I wrote about a related euphemism, post-kinetic development, in April 2008. Ahead of my time again!
Most likely to succeed: Trend (verb). (It’s been trending for years—in the language of fashion, for example—so I’d say that’s a safe bet.)
Least likely to succeed: Culturomics.
Fan words (new category): Gleek.
For more information about the winning words and the runners-up, read the ADS press release. UPDATE: Read Ben Zimmer’s eyewitness report (with video!) at Visual Thesaurus.
In separate voting during the Pittsburgh meeting, the American Name Society selected Eyjafjallajökull—the name of the volcano that erupted in Iceland last year, wreaking havoc among air travelers throughout Europe—as its name of the year for 2010. I was naturally delighted, because Eyjafjallajökull had been one of my nominations.
Other names selected by the ANS included:
Quinn and Finn: fictional names of the year. (Quinn and Finn are characters on the TV series “Glee”; see gleek, above)
Tea Party: trade name of the year. (I’m not certain how the worthy members of ANS define “trade,” but I wouldn’t have allowed a political movement into this category. My own nominations were BP, WikiLeaks, and Old Spice.)
Lady Gaga: personal name of the year. (I had nominated Buster Posey, a catcher with the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants whose name represents the perfect union of male and female, old-fashioned and hip.)
I confess I was disappointed not to see Paul the Octopus (2008?-2010) get so much as an honorable mention.
For more information, read the ANS press release.
More word of the year posts.
More name of the year posts.