Somehow I missed the news splash—perhaps you did too—but last Friday, the American Dialect Society announced its 2010 Word of the Year: “app.”
Apparently, the Word of the Year doesn’t have to be a new word, nor does it have to be a single word; it can be a phrase. It does have to be newly prominent or notable in the past year, much like Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
The Society wants to assure us that, in voting in these words or phrases, its linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students and independent scholars are not inducting new words into the English language. Its announcement states that they are simply highlighting the fact that changes in language are normal, ongoing and entertaining.
“App” beat out runners up “trend” as a verb, “junk,” “Wikileaks” as a proper noun and one I hadn’t heard: “nom,” an onomatopoetic word connoting eating, especially pleasurably.
There was a category for most useful words, my favorite of which was “fatfinger,” a verb meaning to make typos by hitting two keys with one finger on a keypad.
There was a list of words that dominated events, such as “vuvuzela,” as well as portmanteaus that emerged from cultural phenomena–including “Gleek,” “Twihard” and “Belieber.” “Enhanced pat-down” ranked in the top four in the Most Euphemistic category.
The Society also voted on the 2010 Name of the Year: Who could forget “Eyafjalljökul?”
Read more about it and, if there are words you believe the Dialect Society overlooked, feel free to send them as comments to Word Nymph and we’ll confer our own award.