In 1999, the American Dialect Society’s word of the year was “Y2K.” In 2007 it was “subprime.” Now that we’re almost finished with the current year, it’s time to ask ourselves: Which word best communicates the spirit of ’11?
I have my own suggestions both for an overall winner and for runners-up and special-category winners. The list appears after the jump; first, though, a bit of explanation.
I followed the ADS’s criteria for selection, in this case:
- demonstrably new or newly popular in 2011
- widely and/or prominently used in 2011
- indicative or reflective of the popular discourse
- not a peeve or a complaint about overuse or misuse
Submissions need to meet only one of the criteria to qualify. Note, too, that “word of the year” is broadly defined as “vocabulary item”: it doesn’t have to be a single word. And because this is the American Dialect Society, words need to have been popular or prominent in the United States.
By the way, anyone can play this game. Check out the American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year page to see how to submit your words via email, Twitter, or Facebook. If you’re planning to be at the society’s 2012 meeting in Portland, Oregon, you can participate in the voting at 5:30 p.m., January 5 6, at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower.
And now for my list, presented in alphabetical order. Linked words have been featured in this space during 2011.